April 4 2010: Education and Skills Development Minister, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, last week revealed that government had decided to phase out the controversial double shift system in senior secondary schools because it was badly received by the public.
Venson-Moitoi on Wednesday told parliament that her ministry decided to halt the double shift system because of incessant complaints from parents, who were insisting that the system is misdirected.
MPs had, during Venson-Moitoi’s presentation. persistently argued that the double shift system was doomed even before it started as it was implemented without proper consultation of all the stakeholders.
“As I mentioned earlier, this system was not designed as a long term feature but merely as a measure geared towards increasing access to secondary education. We expect the new senior secondary schools at Mmadinare, Mogoditshane and Nata to be operational next year, such that we will do away with double shift at senior secondary level while simultaneously ensuring that there is no drop in the enrolment rates,” she said.
She further stated that insinuations that she back-pedaled as a result of the double shift system’s inherent problems, which outweighed its benefits, are unfounded.
Gaborone Central MP, Dumelang Saleshando, had put it to Venson-Moitoi that the double shift system’s impromptu withdrawal was a consequence of the fact that the hurdles embedded in the system outweighed the benefits.
“I did not carry investigations and as such I cannot give information with regard to academic performance during the double shift system,” Venson-Moitoi said after further prodding from Selebi-Phikwe West MP, Gilson Saleshando.
She eventually admitted that the double shift system was reversed primarily because of complaints from parents.
Introduced in 2006, the double shift system has always been a cause for concern for parents, especially in kgotla meetings. They called for the system to be abolished as students were underperforming academically.
They also said that the system breeds immorality, truancy and delinquency as students come back from school late at night.
But government maintains that the system will continue to be effected for junior secondary school students.
“From the enrolment projections that we have for the next five years, it will not be possible to stop double shift at junior secondary school level until more classrooms are provided,” said Venson-Moitoi.
She also said that the system was introduced as an interim measure geared towards increasing access to secondary education.
“At the time the double shift was introduced, transition from form 3 to form 4 was 58.22 percent. It rose to 62.34 percent in 2009 mainly due to the implementation of double shift,” she said.
A detailed evaluation of the exercise was undertaken in May 2009, at which all stakeholders, including teacher unions were consulted.
“A review report has since been submitted to my office detailing both the strengths and challenges associated with this policy,” she said.