Minister Moletsane to discuss principals’ concerns

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Limpho Sello

THE Vice President of the Lesotho Schools’ Principals Association (LESPA) said they are optimistic that a scheduled principals meeting with the Minister of Education and Training, M Mokhele Moletsane will facilitate a fruitful discussion of the pressing issues affecting the education sector.

Mr Easow Ramatla Varkey, who is the Vice President of the association, was speaking to the Lesotho Times ahead of a meeting scheduled for 10 November 2017 in Maseru.

Currently, the major challenge faced by most schools, he explained, was the late deployment of teachers to fill vacant positions.

This is affecting the quality of education, as some teachers are having to teach more than one class while in some cases, students miss out on their tutorials for days.

According to education experts who spoke to the Lesotho Times this week, a high student-teacher ratio in Lesotho’s public primary and secondary schools is a major cause for concern. A low student-teacher ratio, which can vary from one teacher to between 10 to twenty-five students, a scenario common in the developed world and private schools in Africa, is often used as a selling point to measure good quality of education.

However, Mr Varkey said in Lesotho some schools have had vacant teaching positions for years.

“We have a situation where in some schools there are some vacant positions that have not been filled for a long time. Although we hear that there is going to be a hiring exercise in January 2018, it is important that we discuss this issue with the minister to reflect how this affects the performance of the children, and also to understand how the minister is going to address this critical matter in a sustainable manner,” he said.

Mr Varkey said another pressing matter that needed an urgent redress was the introduction of new subjects to the Grade Eight curriculum without learning materials to support this pilot initiative. In addition to English, Mathematics and Sesotho, the Grade Eight students in the piloted schools throughout the country are also doing Science and Technology, Social Sciences, Arts and Entrepreneurship and Life-Skills-Based sexuality education.

“We do have a difficult situation, which is affecting both the teachers and the students. The teachers are unable to satisfactorily deliver their duties without the necessary tools,” Mr Varkey said.

As a result, teachers are having to do some research on the internet to compile learning materials.

“This is not an easy task because some schools do not have access to internet, which means that teachers have to pay for such services to create their own learning tools,” he said.

The principals meeting is among other issues expected to discuss the performance contract for principals, teachers’ promotions, the Comprehensive Teachers Policy and teachers’ salaries and working conditions.

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