THE month of May always begins on the same note each year. The first day is recognised worldwide as International Labour Day. Besides being a holiday for those in meaningful employment, it is often a time to reflect on a wide range of labour issues.
Of course there is always an obsession for wage increase cries as well as a call for better working conditions for employees. What is rarely talked about is the streamlining of recruitment practices.
This could be because the day is for workers and not for those seeking work. Consequently, any concerns regarding recruitment miss out on the front page news columns for the day.
My continued observations of the education sector have unearthed a terrible trend that is holding the sector ransom for all the wrong reasons.
The recruitment practices particularly in private schools leaves a lot to be desired. There is too much cronyism and nepotism involved in the recruitment processes.
In other words, instead of looking out for qualified people to teach and do administrative work, a good number of private schools end up giving the chance to their friends and relatives who are more often than not lacking the necessary qualifications to execute the duties pertaining to a given post.
This practice is premised on the false assumption that one is doing a good job of giving his friends and relatives an employment opportunity that was hard to come by. Much to the contrary, this is indeed a very myopic perception as we shall find out later.
There are very many qualified people out there who have the necessary training to occupy the job openings in a school but when one goes for less or unqualified friends and relatives then the aspect of quality standards is thrown out.
For example one school I know recently employed a clearly unskilled secretary. This young lady knows very little about how a computer works and making errors seems to be her default setting.
When it was time for her to type the end of term examinations most teachers were left in tears. When asked to make corrections she simply deleted the whole document!
This school would be a much better place if it had taken the wisdom-laden trouble to advertise for a secretary.
There are hundreds of qualified secretaries or IT graduates who can do a more decent job for the same money. Why should a school pay money to someone who slows down the progress of the school?
More often than not these unqualified friends or relatives are the most complacent workers since they know they earned the job through their relations with the owner and not any significant skills.
It gets worse if the person is a blood relative to the school owner. Such people believe (often correctly) that they cannot lose their job after all their relationship with the school owner is eternal!
I also know very many schools where the bursars are (as a rule) related to the school owner. These very incompetent fellows end up plunging the schools into deep financial crises and the owners are for some reason always reluctant to reprimand them.
If you think I am joking, try and see those schools that are in crisis and then follow up on the relationship between the school owner and the person in charge of finances. You are likely to find out that the bursar is so closely related to the owner and carries very low qualifications.
That said, I think that the Inspector of Schools in Rwanda should start looking into this when handling issues of quality assurance in the school setting if standards are to be upheld.
School owners should be able to show transparent methods of recruitment. When push comes to shove, then at least these friends and relatives should be qualified ones. The education sector cannot be a victim of family and friend clicks.