Provide alternatives to private schools

AS reported in one of our stories in this issue the government is moving swiftly to shut down all illegal schools operating in Lesotho.

The Ministry of Education has given all unregistered schools until November 30 to either shut down or face legal action.

The move will see hordes of unregistered schools failing to open for the new academic term next January.

We have always maintained in these pages that Lesotho needs a strong education system to meet the challenges of our modern times and that a well-educated populace can be the engine for economic growth.

In that sense we believe an educated citizenry is an asset to any country.

Any country that has made tremendous advances in the lives of its people began by empowering its people through education.

This is the reason why we applauded parliament when it passed the Education Act 2010 which seeks to make primary school education compulsory.

Our verdict was that Lesotho’s education sector prior to the passing of the new law was thoroughly chaotic.

The education system did little to promote the government’s goal of providing quality education to all children.

We think the decision to shut down the schools could help bring sanity back into the troubled sector.

Lesotho could not address its current challenges in industry with such a chaotic education system in place.

On the whole we believe the new education law is a progressive piece of legislation.

People must go to school.

The new law will make it an offence for any parent to deliberately fail to send their child to school.

Any parent who fails to send their child to school will be liable to a one-year jail term or pay a fine of M1 000.

Where a pupil is to be absent from school parents are expected to notify the school principal and provide acceptable reasons in writing why the pupil should miss school.

Failure to do so would be considered an offence punishable by a jail term or a fine.

The law also requires that all schools operating in Lesotho should be registered with the Ministry of Education.

We think the radical law is perfectly fine in so far as it seeks to instil order in the education sector.

We note that most of these illegal private schools are in a derelict state.

They do not only pose a serious danger to the learners but to the owners as well.

Asking these schools to shut down and properly egister is therefore perfectly in order.

But there is a flip-side to this issue.

In our opinion the mushrooming of these illegal schools was spawned by the government’s failure to provide adequate public schools.

The illegal private schools simply filled a void.

It is a simple case of supply and demand.

The government must demonstrate that it has the capacity to fill this void and provide decent schools with better infrastructure and resources.

We expect the government to invest heavily in quality education.

In our opinion the former system was not up to scratch and was in need of reform.

This is clearly demonstrated from the few graduates we have interacted with.

They leave a lot to be desired.

This is not surprising because these graduates are products of ill-equipped schools.

These dysfunctional students can hardly spell and do basic math.

The government must also look at the conditions of service for teachers.

We do not need demotivated teachers manning our classrooms.

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