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.