After it was revealed last month that the teacher/student ratio increased to more than 60 per class in many public schools there was a national outcry.
The teacher/student ratio was even identified as one of the reasons why government schools - from primary to senior secondary level - yield dismal results year after year.
Soon after the outcry as is typical of Batswana, the issue of the recently released poor Junior Certificate Examination (JCE) results has now been forgotten. It will be revisited next year after the release of yet another demonstration of poor performance. The issue of overcrowding in our classrooms also is forgotten.
It has become an inherent tendency for this nation to voice concerns over our falling educational standards, especially after examination results are released and thereafter little to nothing to remedy this sad state of affairs is done.
Previously, the government spent millions of pula in studies to investigate poor performance by students in public schools. After such studies, we still did not implement the solutions to the problems.
These studies are gathering dust somewhere at the government enclave. One of the biggest problems in Botswana is failure to implement policies. We are only good at commissioning various studies, but when it comes to implementation we are always wanting.
For instance, what happened to the Revised National Policy on Education (RNPE) or the Kedikilwe Commission? Instead of implementing the recommendations of the Kedikilwe Commission, decades later, we came up with
We all agree that there is an artificial oversupply of teachers in schools. In a situation where teacher to pupil ratio has escalated to 60 per class, there is no reason why we should be having so many young graduate educationists as temporary teachers in the first place.
Classroom space should instead be the problem, which could also have been solved. There is an issue of temporary teachers who are not allowed to unionise. As a result, there is nobody to negotiate for better working conditions on their behalf. It is an exploitative system that must come to an end.
This stampede over permanent and pensionable positions would be a thing of the past. There are so many graduate teachers roaming the streets yet we still have educators teaching huge classes. If we are failing to absorb them in our already ailing education system, why not then export unemployed graduate teachers to countries in need of their skills?
“Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.”
- Solomon Ortiz