As students headed back to school for the new academic year – which starts today – it emerged that the Government had hired an additional 3,300 teachers as it moves to scrap the double-shift arrangement which is thought to undermine quality education.
The shift arrangement was introduced ten years ago as part of broader efforts to ensure education-for-all.
Nonetheless, while the strategy might have worked back then considering the priorities and resources at government’s disposal at the time, it is laudable that authorities continuously seek improvement with view to ensuring that the overall education goals are achieved.
The recruitment of additional teachers should ease the transition from the double-shift to full-day arrangement in public primary and secondary schools and it is our expectation that the transition will be managed properly to avoid undesirable outcomes.
It is indeed critical that authorities – right from the Ministry of Education to the inspectors at the grassroots level – closely follow the implementation of strategies designed to allow for a smooth transition.
Yet, if recent happenings in the education sector are anything to go by one can safely argue that there has been laxity on the part of authorities in enforcement of standards and other measures designed to ensure quality education.
For instance, in recent years we witnessed a series of assessments across the education sector that resulted in the closure of some schools and tertiary institutions, which affected many students.
While inspections are necessary for standards enforcement, the exercise should be conducted regularly to ensure that issues identified and nipped in the bud before it’s too late.
Authorities should also stop the culture of indecision and dithering when it comes to enforcing the rules, as we saw recently when over 100 schools remained in the dark about their fate – just days to the new academic year – pending a report from an earlier assessment.
The sector also needs to deal with the kind of ambiguity and contradictory decisions witnessed recently when the Ministry of Education overruled a decision by the Workforce Development Authority to close nearly 70 TVET schools over standards.
There is absolutely no reason why public institutions – especially those in the same sector – should not coordinate, consult and agree among themselves as to what amounts to a threat to the overall collective objectives and what kind of remedy should be taken.
All this creates an undesirable state of uncertainty and unpredictability in a very critical sector and concerned authorities should urgently streamline things.
There is need for clarity of purpose among all stakeholders.