TEACHERS have accused government of imposing the new education curriculum without consulting them- a development they say has left schools facing several challenges.
Piloted in 70 primary schools in 2012, the new curriculum has now been fully implemented all over the country and last week, all grade 7 learners wrote an assessment test which replaced the primary school leaving examinations which were used to determine whether or not a learner would be admitted for secondary education.
The First, Second and Third Class grading system have since been replaced with Basic, Proficient and Advanced rankings as learners automatically qualify for a place in secondary schools.
The new curriculum further dictates that learners can no longer be prevented from advancing to the next grade due to poor performance.
Unlike in the past where grade 7 learners closed immediately after writing end of year examinations, this year the ministry announced that the learners will continue to attend classes even after last week’s assessment tests.
It was against this background that the Lesotho Association of Teachers (LAT) and Lesotho Teachers’ Trade Union (LTTU) on Tuesday held a press conference in Maseru on the “status of education in Lesotho”.
“A new curriculum was introduced in the primary schools in 2013, but not enough genuine consultation of stakeholders was done, instead the government imposed the implementation of the curriculum,” LAT Secretary General, Thaabe Kuleile said in his address.
He said government’s arbitrary decision left the education sector with more challenges that included the lack of teaching and learning material in line with the new curriculum, making lack of computers in schools as an example.
Mr Kuleile said teacher-pupil ratio was not addressed before introducing the new curriculum resulting in a further strain on the education system.
According to a World Bank Report, teacher-pupil ratio in Lesotho stood at one teacher per 34 pupils in 2015- an improvement from 1: 48 in 2000.
“We don’t acknowledge the move by the ministry to keep the grade 7 learners at schools while they have finished their end of level assessment.
“The decision was not fully communicated to the education stakeholders and we were only made aware of it through a circular. We therefore recommend the ministry withdraws the circular for this year only and prepare for its implementation in the next academic calendar,” Mr Kuleile said.
He said effecting the implementation this year could only result in ill-discipline due to the fact learners had already finished their end of level assessment.
He said this would also create a lot of absenteeism as the learners would also be demotivated to actively learn in classrooms.
“It is not clear what the ministry want the learners to continue doing during the whole month of their presence at schools.”
Last week Education and Training Minister, Mokhele Moletsane, told the media the changes to the curriculum would be effected this year and that the delay in informing all stakeholders was not an excuse.