Home » Governance » Extra Lessons’ Exploitation Must Stop

Indications that Government has banned holiday and extra lessons in public primary and secondary schools are welcome what is left is the extra furlong in arresting a trend that has become iniquitous in more ways than one.

By way of background, extra lessons gained currency in the last decade when the socio-economic conditions of the country were so bad that people cast all systems into disarray.

The social services sector in health and education took an unprecedented knock as Government could not provide requisite human and material resources.

In the education sector, teachers left the profession and those that held on found ways to augment their salaries.

That is when they conducted private and extra lessons so that they could provide services that they would not readily offer institutionally.

They also were offered incentives by parents.

For a time, parents agreed. It made sense.

Today, more and more parents are disgruntled with the concept of extra lessons – all for a good cause, not least the fact that they are being asked to subsidise teachers when they are equally hard done socio-economically.

First, the extra lessons have become exploitative of both the children, who hardly ever have time to rest these days and learn about other aspects of life, and to parents who have to pump out money for fear their children might not get an education and fair treatment from teachers.

It is a matter of record that teachers ask pupils to pay certain amounts ranging from US$1 to US$5 per week for extra lessons.

Those who cannot afford tend to lose out as these extra lessons are used to further curricula and syllabi.

In the past extra lessons were for remedial and revision purposes. Not anymore.

Teachers now look forward to these extra lessons for extra income: an average US$50 per week for a class of 50 (no, size does not matter nowadays!) and a cumulative US$200 or so.

The teachers are now living off the desperation and ignorance of parents.

There is even a whiff of criminality in this.

If the teachers do not teach in the allotted times, which syllabi ought to be covered as the education system stipulates and choose to elongate, delay and exploit children and parents, they are plain criminals.

That is in relation to negligence of duty and abuse of office.

One may want to draw an analogy with doctors who are employed by Government to work in public institutions who go on to neglect the poor at the public facilities, which are usually cheaper, and refer the patients to their own private surgeries.

The result is the poor populace ails and dies more.

The poor cannot afford private referrals and practice.

They say a Government that has its people at heart — the poor and downtrodden especially — should be seen to act or risk appearing hypocritical and heartless.

It must also be seriously interrogated how such an activity, which in other areas is called moonlighting, has been allowed to go for so long unchecked.

The other important aspect in this discourse relates to the audit of these schemes.

Nobody can gauge the transparency and efficiency of these schemes.

This brings to the fore two things: first, if the extra lessons are so effective and are the game changer, then what has become of the formal education time, practice and tactics?

If the time, practice and tactics are inadequate, then this should be a poser for national authorities.

The second aspect, and related to the above, is how the changing or changed practices should be incorporated into a national framework or ethos.

There is also now a need for a moral judgment of the issue of extra lessons and incentives.

The moral framework of the term in the education sector has obviously degraded as teachers have become soldiers of fortune, if not worse.

The Government said the 13 weeks allocated for the school term was enough for pupils to complete the syllabus.

Teachers should be cognisant of the idea that every Zimbabwean is struggling to make ends meet and hence should not profiteer at the expense of the poor.

It is not cast in stone that teachers will stop extra lessons when they get Poverty Datum Line-pegged salaries.

A good guess is that they will continue in search of that extra dollars and continue using the carrot and stick tactics they have been employing to date.

The trend will continue.

It will only take a g moral and legal stand by Government to stem this practice which is being driven by avarice: the noble, long suffering teacher of yore is long gone.

Maybe there is need for a paradigm shift and a refocus of the teaching goals.

What Zimbabweans need are public servants who have the public at heart, not burdens who robe the public in broad day light.

If the money they get is too little to meet their daily needs, they should make relevant labour representations to the Government and avoid milking parents dry, some of whom get less than what teachers get.

Source : The Herald