Shortage of teacher accommodation, classrooms hit North West
by Basadi Morokotso
The North Region is experiencing acute shortage of teacher accommodation and student classrooms.
The situation is so bad such that even in the middle of the bitter cold most of the classes are conducted under trees.
This is so because most of the classrooms are either dilapidated or have not been maintained in a long time now, despite efforts by school heads to have their schools attended to.
An accusing finger has always pointed at the regional education office for being too slow in addressing the problem and for its failure to always provide convincing feedback.
Teachers also complained that they always find themselves in situations whereby they either share or rent houses in the village. They requested that they be built institutional houses so that they may enjoy subsidized benefits like their colleagues in other professions.
The revelations were made by teachers during a recent visit by Education and Skills Minister Venson-Moitoi.
At Mathiba Primary School alone, the school’s principal, Letswee Letswee told of how for some years now, close to seven classes had to be conducted outdoors on a permanent basis. He also decried the fact that his school is the most populated, having been filled with pupils from as far as Sexaxa settlement, Boro/Boronyane, Matlapana and some parts of Maun, most of whom also walk long distances to and from school on a daily basis.
“Besides congestion, the other observation has been that because of long distances, pupils are automatically derailed from concentrating in class as they would be too tired, hence the poor results at both primary and secondary school level,” said Letswee.
Secondary schools have, on the other hand, decried the fact that their feeder primary schools furnish them with below standard pupils who always under-perform.
The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, David Ratsatsi, promised to take heed of their concerns, most of which were uniform.
He, however, said the issue of decongestion should be given the utmost priority because it also means teachers cannot keep up with the large numbers of pupils per class, adding that there is also no way they can deliver as expected if they have to deal with such numbers on a daily basis.
“I very much agree with you on this one, and I think there is urgent need for it to be addressed in due time. There are some schools around Maun whose student population is still very low, and so I will liaise with the regional director and see if some pupils from the affected schools cannot be transferred,” said Ratsatsi. “This will, however, take a little longer as we are yet to consult parents because this will also mean we make provisions for transport, so you can see it is a very difficult task to undertake.”
Meanwhile the Maun Technical College construction department has been tasked with ensuring that schools in this tourism village are attended to. Ratsatsi said head teachers should not expect maintenance to be automatic as they have to follow right procedures of liaising with the Regional Education Office for quotations and other stuff. Maun Senior Secondary School is one of those in dire need for maintenance following the fire outbreaks the previous year, which left eight classes burnt to ashes in what was believed to be protests by students who are still unknown.
Tsodilo Junior has not survived the setback as a laboratory and some classrooms were also burned down by rioting students who are still to appear before a court of law.
The North West District Council is also doing its best to help the current situation at schools.
Its chairman, Latlhang Molonda, said this week that efforts are ongoing to make the dilapidated school facilities more habitable. He said an amount of P1 900 000 had been secured to renovate nine classes across the region.
“Because of the water shortage issue in and around Maun, booster pumps were installed at Andrew Wellio Primary School to assist in water supply. I trust that the ministry will continue to come up with remedies to promote a conducive learning and living environment,” said Molonda. “Classrooms and teacher accommodation shortages will also be addressed. I am told also that the ministry has also bought 35 houses from the Botswana Housing Corporation, which were allocated to teachers at both primary and secondary schools in Maun, and that many more are yet to be bought. So this is on its own a step in the right direction.”