Our future is at stake

13 March 2019 | Columns

The quality of education is dependent on a number of factors, ranging from policies, structures and the type of system being employed.

It also goes without saying that dynamics such as teacher quality, resources and effective administration also play a huge role.

For far too long we have been on record criticising the system, which at the moment we feel does not provide for an inclusive model. To us an effective model of inclusive education creates an environment in which every learner has the opportunity to flourish. But this is not happening in the current system, where proposals for improving failing schools are ignored and overlooked by the authorities, leading to perceptions that strategies aimed at improving public schools are often urban-centred. The situation at Ndama Combined School, which sees massive overcrowding in classrooms, is a learner crisis that needs to be dealt with as a matter of urgency. Pupils at this school are faced with multiple challenges, especially overcrowding, including one class having 114 learners. The school has only seven toilets for 2 247 learners and two reserved for teachers, which are only used for emergencies, as the septic tank fills up in a single day. Learning is clearly taking place under severe strain and it is not conducive for both teachers and learners. It is equally hard to fathom why education authorities have allowed the situation to continue unabated. It is now 29 years after independence and the same challenges that befell our public education system pre-independence largely persist, now even on a grander scale. We cannot have learners crammed into classes and other factors that keep compromising the quality of education being offered at public schools.

The measure of a nation is turning education into an asset, and decision-makers, who have the privilege of a good private education for their children, must ensure that the education ministry adopts delivery models that ensures that the current situation does not spiral out of control. The very future of the nation is at stake.

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