People point fingers teachers, the same teachers, who are faced with countless challenges, but are expected to perform miracles for students to pass.
What a shame it is to be pointing fingers at the wrong people, while the ones we should be bashing are hiding their faces under decorated face masks. There are so many factors contributing to the drop in the performance of students in the just released 2019 results across board.
l Freezing of Secondary School Teachers Recruitment: The ratio of students is one of the biggest challenges, which shows that there is a need to hire more teachers; it beats logic why the government would decide to freeze recruitment of secondary school teachers when there is a need for teachers in schools across the country.
How are students expected to learn in congested classrooms? Can’t the government see that it is denying junior and senior secondary school students their right to a conducive learning environment? It is evident that the government in its quest to cut the budget has taken a decision to toy with the education of our future leaders, while denying many qualified teachers who are roaming the streets employment. It seemed like whomever came up with the idea of an establishment register had a good plan. An establishment register is a tool used to determine the number of teachers in a particular school measured against the roll of students in that school; the idea was to improve the teacher to student ratio, but sadly that has not happened and actually the number of students per class continues to increase. The secondary school system is being choked by an increase in the number of students, but government does not seem interested in doing anything about this situation. Those in charge are failing the nation, students and teachers. The failing system puts a lot of pressure on teachers who end up teaching 7 to 8 classes with 50 students per class; how sad! Mind you each class seeks a different approach. The time has come for those establishment registers to be pulled out and for the Department of Teaching Service Management (TSM) to start hiring teachers.
l Temporary Employment: For a teacher to be able to teach and be understood by their students they have to first forge a good working relationship with the students, have a class culture and lay down rules and regulations of how the class will operate. But if you are given a class for 4 months how well will you be able to interact with it and produce good results? Children especially in the adolescent stages need a lot of supervision and guidance, they need to trust their teachers since they spend most part of their days with them. Now how will a child be comfortable with new faces every term; Bare in mind that times have changed and the young ones of today need a different approach. The issue of having to introduce new teachers to students every few months has a huge
l Lack of Resources: How are teachers expected to achieve their objective without the necessary resources? If exercise books reach schools a month after schools open, how will the students and teachers begin their core business? Many schools across the country do not have resources, including teaching materials and textbooks, and teachers have to improvise. Teachers in most cases try to find ways of providing reading material to students, and sadly, the relevant authorities seem not to be bothered. Some students are still taught outside in these harsh weather conditions, because classrooms are not enough to accommodate all the students. Can we really expect good results? Even those lucky enough to be taught in classrooms, the classroom in most cases wont have electricity, it will have broken windows, and not, which is almost the same as being taught outside.
l Bring Back Extra Curricular Activities: Schools used to be alive, there was learning and extra curricular activities, which in my view were for unwinding, and exercising the brain. Teachers couched and gave students guidance at these activities, and they seem to do wonders for the students. Apart from providing the much-needed exercise, Sports can also contribute towards building children’s character, and discouraging them from engaging in activities that might harm or jeopardize their futures.
Extra curricular activities also served as a starting point for learners to try out different sporting activities and find out what Sport they are good at. It gives students a chance to show other skills out of the classroom, which may actually build their confidence. Teachers are grilled daily for poor results, don’t you think that these very people are doing everything in their power to sow good results. I still say that someone somewhere is not doing his or her job and it weighs on the educator the one who shows up every morning. Come on do you think that a normal teacher can fail their students year after year after year. These small humans are our friends we are their parents we want nothing but good for them, believe me.
Instead of wasting a lot of time blaming teachers for the poor results in school, something needs to be done urgently. All stakeholders, authorities at the ministry, teachers, school heads, parents and all others stakeholders need to come together and address these issues.
Teachers are not magicians, neither can they perform miracles; they need the necessary resources to be able to do their work diligently. As long as the government does not address the challenges faced by schools across the country, the sad reality is that results will continue to drop, and as long as all these challenges are not addressed no one has a right to point a finger at teachers.
*Thapelo Kelaotswe is a qualified teacher. She has taught in private schools as well as the public school system.