Nqobile Tshili Chronicle Reporter
PARENTS have supported the government directive outlawing holiday and extra lessons but educators, on the other hand, maintained that the practice is necessary for pupils to pass. Many public schools have been accused of profiteering through extra lessons with others going to an extent of forcing all their pupils to attend them for a fee.
Last week, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education sent out a circular prohibiting holiday and extra lessons. The government has warned teachers that those caught defying the directive risked losing their jobs.
However, teachers unions have vowed to defy the directive.
Winos Dube, a Bulawayo parent said the government’s move was welcome as it protected parents from teachers who were robbing them.
“This will protect parents from teachers who want to exploit them by not committing themselves fully during the course of the term knowing they will get money through extra lessons,” he said.
Dube, who is also Bulawayo United Residents’ Association chairperson said although the government’s initiative was good it could affect some pupils who really needed the lessons to catch up with faster learners.
Zibusiso Dube said the government should be applauded for the decision as teachers were no longer dedicating their time to pupils during their normal working hours.
He challenged the government to come up with a mechanism to ensure that the teachers were not sabotaging their pupils.
“Government should come up with a mechanism to make sure that teachers work during working hours. For instance, the district education officers and the provincial education officers can intensify teacher inspections so that it becomes regular, like it used to,” said Dube.
In banning the holiday and extra lessons government said the 13 weeks allocated to every school term were adequate for pupils to complete their syllabi.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said that schools’ administrators and teachers were using additional lessons to fleece parents of their hard-earned money.
He said there was no justification for additional lessons as there had been no disruption to lessons in recent years.
“Anyone caught doing the opposite risks being dismissed from the service,” Dr Dokora said.
“There is now little justification for one to apply for holiday lessons. The permanent secretary (Mrs Constance Chigwamba) asked school headmasters if the 13 weeks were not adequate in order for government to increase the number of school days and all of them agreed that the days were adequate.
“This means that no one should conduct any extra holiday lesson because the school curriculum is designed to transact in those 13 weeks.”
Secondary schools normally charge up to $5 per subject for holiday lessons, with extra lessons going for between $1 and $2 an hour paid directly to the teacher.
On average primary school pupils are charged about $3 every week.
Dr Dokora said schools that needed to conduct extra lessons should seek permission from the ministry. Exceptions can be granted in cases where lessons are disrupted due to circumstances beyond authorities control such as floods and other disasters.
Bennard Maphuza who runs a private college in Bulawayo said government should let teachers continue with the extra lessons as their low salaries were demoralising.
“Morale is very low among teachers at public schools. If you are not getting peanuts for all the hard work you put in, you end up not applying yourself as much as you should. They should allow the teachers to teach as long as it benefits the children,” said Maphuza.
A teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity rejected claims that teachers were taking advantage of pupils during extra lessons.
“Children are benefitting from these lessons and banning them will definitely make them fail. Slow learners were catching up through these lessons as they are held in a relaxed atmosphere,” she said.
Musawenkosi Ncube, a parent, said extra lessons were good but claimed that children were no longer studying during the term as they preferred to go for extra lessons.