Free education comes with challenges

Letters, Normal

The National, Wednesday 29th August, 2012

THE introduction of free education is a mammoth task for Education secretary Dr Musawe Si­ne­bare and his team.
They need to address some of the issues and pro­blems teachers, education officers and stakehol­ders face at all levels.
Many of them are not new.
Parents and sponsors are re­lieved the burden of school fees has been lifted from their shoulders and it provides an opportunity for them to save for their children or wards’ tertiary education.
I would like to point out some issues of concern for teachers, parents and  sponsors:
l    High enrolment rate for all public schools;
l    Demand for more qualified teachers at each grade;
l    Students-teacher ratio is now 1:60 or more;
l    Quality of education has been affected as tea­cher-student ratio has in­creased tremendously;
l    Classroom are over-crowded and there is a shortage of desks;
l    Scarce teaching ma­terials and resources aids;
l    Demand for more science facilities such as laboratories, etc;
l    Overcrowding in boarding schools, especially dormitories and di­ning halls; and
l    Demand for more houses for teachers.
With these challenges, education planners will have to come up with a mechanism where there is efficiency in the delivery and fair distribution of resources.
If the ratio of students-teacher is high, I believe there is less attention, effort and time given to the individual student.
The government needs to revi­sit the issue of tea­chers’ salaries and employment conditions which should be attractive.
We are losing good teachers from public to private schools because they can afford to offer better packages.
Finally, free education brings challenges with it and if these issues are resolved immediately, then the outcome will be successful.

Greg Laswari