Schools must shape up or ship out

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I HAVE a soft spot for school teachers.

As one who was in the “trenches” at one point, I know their daily struggles.

I know their pains.

When teachers moan about their “hardships”, they can rest assured that they have a listening ear.

I quit teaching in disgust some years ago because of the poor pay and unbearable working conditions.

The decision by the government to shut down all illegal schools operating in Lesotho at the end of this month came as no surprise to me.

It was long overdue.

The call has been met with howls of protest from the “businessmen” running these schools.

This is not surprising as they are an interested party in the dispute.

But we need clear minds here to analyse this matter.

For a start, the government says these schools were unregistered and therefore illegal.

Therefore defending the “schools” would be defending an illegality.

That very idea should surely be repugnant to any right-thinking individual.

I find it odd that anyone can stand up to defend something that is clearly illegal.

I also think the government’s argument on the need to restore order in the education sector is quite compelling.

Some of these illegal schools had no basic infrastructure like proper classrooms and ablution facilities.

These illegal schools also employed unqualified teachers, which is a cardinal sin.

The education ministry could not monitor and assess what was going on behind the walls of these “schools of shame” because they were not registered.

Supervision and monitoring by competent education officers is the cornerstone of any solid education system.

Without that supervision there is bound to be disaster in the education sector.

With all these problems any parent with an iota of conscience would find it problematic to enrol a child at any of these schools.

I, for one, would not entrust the education of my children in the hands of an incompetent and unqualified classroom practitioner.

I believe there is nothing as dangerous as an unqualified teacher who has been let loose among young, impressionable minds.

The danger these teachers can inflict on these youngsters can be immeasurable.

It is precisely for these reasons that I applaud the decision to bring to a screeching halt the chaotic scenes in Lesotho’s education sector.

Only a reckless government would have allowed the chaos in the education sector to continue unabated.

Of course the decision to shut down the schools was drastic.

This is because drastic situations require drastic solutions.

The closure will bring some semblance of order in what had virtually become an untamed jungle.

Of course the illegal schools might have produced students who made it in life.

But the bottom line is that their operations were based on an illegality.

The law is clearly not on their side.

The government must stand firm and ensure it reclaims the space from these bogus schools.

Any country that takes its future seriously invests heavily in the education of its children.

It takes years of hard work to build a well-oiled educated citizenry that can drive economic transformation.

There will be no short-cuts.

It would be dereliction of duty on the part of the government to fail to ensure Basotho get good quality education which they deserve.

We want graduates who can spell and perform basic accounting procedures, among other critical skills that are in short supply here.

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