The Sunday News
THIS is the last weekend before schools open in 2018. Some teachers and learners who operate from outside cities have already left for their schools and homes out in the rural areas.
Their minds are already geared up for the coming term. However, as usual, it would not be surprising to hear that there are some people still running around looking for Form One places.
To some it’s the same old story of the January disease and school fees have not been paid. We still love to feast and make merry forgetting that we have serious obligations to meet in January.
The cure for this disease is still far to be found as year in and out people are still found caught in the same trap.
Learners should also learn to organise themselves in good time. Most believe in doing things at the last minute.
For example, learners know what they would need in the coming term at term end, but, they do not inform parents or guardians until the new term begins, hence, you find last minute hassles, parents running around trying to get everything in place.
All this is to do with early preparations for school. It is undeniable that times are hard hence some parents get some things in the last minute and they need sympathetic ears to their cause.
Talking about schools listening to their constituencies, they really should do that.
I am reminded of what I read in one news item where First Lady Cde Auxillia Mnangagwa said: “Government offices are there to listen to us as communities and do what we mandate them to do.”
That was the time when she urged the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to stop Early Childhood Development (ECD) learning programme saying it is anti-girl child development and contributes to high rates of school drop-outs.
Before delving much on what the First Lady said about the ECD learning programming, let us go back to issues raised by groups concerned with the rights of children.
Despite its other shortfalls, the new curriculum is relevant to the ECD children because it builds a foundation for his or her junior schooling.
Now that there are thousands of these unregistered schools, how is the Government monitoring the implementation of the new curriculum when it has nothing to do with these schools?
Having this in view, these groups feel the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is deliberately violating the rights of these children.
But the major question which comes to mind is, who owns these illegal schools? Remember, “school” means a pre-school, primary school and secondary school.
How are these schools implementing the new curriculum? Are there any checks and balances in places?
If there are no checks and balances in the implementation of the new curriculum, then people are justified to say people are taken for a ride in these unregistered schools.
Hope is only in the new dispensation that it will walk the talk and bring normalcy in this sector. It is not an easy task, because this practise is strongly rooted.
The outcry is that there is no supervision in informal schools, but thousands take their children there.
There is an argument that these informal schools are covering a gap, for formal schools cannot cope with numbers of children in surrounding areas.
Some hate hot seating which is found in formal schools. Who said hot-seating is bad?
Many learners have gone through that system and have done well in life after that. Parents and guardians are therefore to blame for sending learners to schools where the Government will not monitor what is happening. By so doing parents are promoting harmful norms.
As the new term begins, those who sat for examinations last year are looking forward to getting their results and I hope the issue of withholding results for those learners who would not have paid their schools fees will be addressed.
We hope that issue will not rear its ugly head again. Children are not to blame for their parents’ failure to pay fees. It is not their fault that they were born in poor families.
Denying them results is a violation of their rights.
Talking about the legality and illegality of ECD learning programme has been overtaken by events, what with the First Lady bringing a very strong point against the programme, that it is anti-girl child and contributes to high rates of school drop-outs.
The bone of contention with this ECD learning programme forces learners to spend nine years in primary school as opposed to the traditional seven years.
According to the First Lady, this is too much especially for the girl child who would have grown big before they get to Form Four and this is contributing to high rates of school drop-outs.
Stopping this will have curtailed a harmful norm which is detrimental to the development and empowerment of the girl child.
Let us stop promoting harmful norms for a progressive educational sector. This is only achievable if the offices we deal with in the communities listen to what the people say and want.
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