MAUN: The new North West Region Education Director Veronicah Letlhare has said the time has come for teachers in Ngamiland to confess that they have failed in the execution of their duties.
She said it has since emerged that the rising number of non-performing teachers has now cultivated the culture of poor performance.
She said it has since been observed that some of their actions are deliberate, which is why they cannot be tolerated anymore because now they affect and impact on innocent children. This follows rising concerns of poor academic performance in the region, which is made up of schools in the four constituencies of Maun East and West, Ngami and Okavango. Attempts have been made in the past by stakeholders to help remedy the situation, in vain. The district leadership is also very much disturbed as it appears the situation is now spiraling out of control.
Speaking at a recent Regional Pitso in Maun, Letlhare said she still struggles to figure out why a region such as the North West should be categorized under the least performing while it is so well resourced as compared to other regions country-wide, which despite the unbearable conditions of service still continue to produce good results. She dismissed the issue of language barriers which most people see as an obstacle leading to poor results as a very lame excuse which she says teachers need to do away with as it will never be taken seriously, no matter how hard they might try to convince authorities.
The Director noted also that it has been observed that at least fifty percent of teachers in the region do not speak English in class, a deliberate measure which she says will not be entertained anymore.
“English speaking in class is not a priority to most of the teachers here and this is where they lost it. They have a tendency to conduct lessons in Setswana, even those that need to be conducted in English. I challenge them to make advantage of the English teaching policy and zoom it into their schools because I believe it can work wonders. They must take this as a competitive strategy and compete with other regions since most children here are from non-setswana speaking backgrounds . Honestly there is a lot that can be done to address this issue of constant unsatisfactory performance, and we need to come up with tangible interventions to help the current situation”, she said.
Participants at the Pitso also decried the issue of overstaying and delayed transfers from the region. They were of the view that the fact that a lot of teachers have overstayed at their respective schools is also a contributing factor since they are now relaxed and do not take their work seriously. While this could be true, Letlhare said it is on its own is a bit of a challenge since it has become common practice that government officials do not want to work in the region for whatever reasons. She said Maun Senior Secondary School for example has a good number of both teaching and non teaching staff who have overstayed. “More than sixty percent of staff there are people from around here, and most are even nearing retirement age. It now becomes a big problem because it is highly unlikely that a person nearing retirement can be transferred to another area. The government has a clear transfer policy, but it might not be doable now under the circumstances. This is why as stakeholders we need to ask ourselves what more can be done to attract people to this region, because otherwise we are going to be seen to be fighting a losing battle”.
Ngamiland District Commissioner Keolopile Leipego strengthened the need for joined efforts from everyone concerned so as to try boost teacher morale. He said parents should also come forth and play a leading role in ensuring that their children are well taken care of and given all the support they need. Often times, he said children who stay alone while their parents work away from home are the most vulnerable and affected because they are forced to perform duties which do not match their age. He called on the Regional Parents Teachers Association to step in and help come up with strategies, suggestions and or solutions so as to bring change to what is currently experienced on the ground.
Meanwhile Maun Administrative Authority chairperson Vepaune Moreti has promised to mobilize councilors and see how they can be of assistance. He said situations such as this one need political will for it to be addressed holistically. “We want to push for councils to be given the autonomy. It is not like we are sitting on our laurels. We have made submissions in the past, especially where issues of teacher welfare are concerned as a way of showing that we are equally concerned and willing to be in this with you. I urge all of you here not to lose hope because the best is yet to come”, said Moreti.