By Basadi Morokotso
Assistant Minister of Basic Education Thato Kwerepe has challenged teachers in the North West region to up their game in order to rescue the region from further embarrassment of poor academic performance. The region has over the years not been able to produce good results right from primary to senior secondary level, something which Kwerepe says can be changed with the right attitude and perhaps change of mindset by teachers.
Deliberating at the closing ceremony of a leadership capacity building training for school heads in Maun, Kwerepe said the reason why the region has been rated amongst the least performing in the country is because teachers are completely naive of what they are expected to do, and that their schools are not run professionally as compared to those which operated in yesteryears.
He said nowadays teachers simply walk into class without a scheme of work because there is never a random check of such by their supervisors whom he said are equally to blame.
“I have been going around schools to find out what really contributes to this below par performance in schools around here. From what I gathered teachers cited issues of welfare the most. They complain of shared accommodation, overstaying and non-progression as the main contributors to poor perfomance. These to me are very lame excuses which teachers shouldn’t take delight in”, he said.
He noted that in his view, what actually contributes is the manner at which various schools are run, adding that as school heads they must make it a point that they have a clear vision of how their schools should operate, failure at which the whole school will rot. He said even though welfare issues are paramount, teachers are trained to cope in adverse conditions and learn not to dwell on excuses to justify poor performance.
“You need not derail your focus. Honestly how do students fail this much while under the care of professionals? The problem is you people don’t plan together as you are too individualistic. You never meet to discuss professional issues. You have tendency to leave the most difficult work to learner and assistant teachers who are on attachment. This I tell you is very wrong.”
He added: “If you can’t do all these together as school heads, how then do you expect better results from your juniors?”.
Speaking on behalf of fellow school heads, Noah Kebafitlhetse admitted that indeed there has been laxity on the part of some of them, all because they have been doing and viewing things differently. He said the training has equipped them with so much knowledge which they will in turn share with their subordinates for the smooth running of their schools. Over and above all he said they will avail time to assist struggling teachers, and make it a point that they observe learning in classrooms, which will in a way also allow them time to manage misconduct amongst students.
“This training has been of great benefit to us as we now feel refreshed and new. This is indeed a new chapter for all of us here. We are hopeful that this engagement will also encourage collaboration in teaching and learning. It is our wish also that we will as a collective, work towards increasing staff commitment for us to achieve set goals”, said Kebafitlhetse.
The nine day training was a collaboration between the Ministry of Education in partnership with the Mashav International Training Institute from Israel. According to Professor Eliezer Yariv of Mashav,the main objective of the training workshop was meant to equip school heads with deep understanding and appreciation on issues of leadership and decision making models so as to as to help them better manage their schools. He advised participants to benchmark from time to time and not compete amongst them. He said he was more than happy that they have been able to impart knowledge as well as sharing experiences which if adopted can be of great benefit to students more especially.