By Shephard Majengeta
VISION 2030 of an upper-middle income economy will be realised.
However, the journey, naturally, will not be an easy one.
The path to Vision 2030 is fraught with challenges and one of the biggest ones is ‘extra lessons’ in schools.
While ‘extra lessons’ are a good thing in themselves, they cease to be noble when they are forced on parents.
Extra lessons cease to be beneficial when the manner in which they are conducted becomes psychologically harmful to children whose parents cannot afford to pay for them.
Our teachers should not be a threat to Vision 2030.
When you force a child to go to ‘sleep’ during lessons because he/she’s parents have not paid for extra lessons, what are you doing to that child?
When a teacher forces a little boy or girl to face the opposite direction of the blackboard what is he or she doing to the psyche of that helpless child?
The child is innocent and should not be victimised.
Parents and guardians want the best for their children and are doing all they can.
It is no secret that our teachers are cashing in on extra lessons now commonly known as ‘maeke’.
Despite being said to be an illegal practice, teachers in various learning institutions are conducting extra lessons after normal school hours.
Reportedly, during normal school hours, not much learning is happening.
The conducting of extra lessons has become a ‘side hustle’ benefitting both teachers and headmasters to the detriment of our children.
The illegal practice of conducting extra lessons is so well crafted to the extent that it is difficult to prove that they are happening.
And the conduct of teachers doing extra lessons has left parents and guardians divided.
Some parents can afford to pay for the extra lessons while others cannot.
It is no secret that most parents are forced to pay out of fear that their children will fail if they do not comply with these outrageous demands.
Why should parents be forced to pay for extra lessons when they have paid school fees which should cover their children’s education?
To achieve Vision 2030, our children should successfully complete their studies and not have their dreams shattered because they have failed to pay for extra lessons.
Parents are making sacrifices to pay school fees that should be enough for a child to get full service at school.
Refusing to give children homework or not marking it because they have not paid for extra lessons makes mercenaries out of our teachers.
What is frightening is that teachers, be it in rural or urban areas, continue to conduct extra lessons despite warnings issued by the Ministry of Education.
The need to make more money from extra lessons has seen even ECD teachers asking parents to pay US$1 or US$ 2 per child, while other teachers in exam classes are getting around US$10 per child in a week.
What this means is that the financially disadvantaged will not access quality education which is now available to only those who can pay extra.
In all honesty and fairness, we cannot ask children to sit at the back of the classroom, play outside or sleep while others learn.
Parents fear reporting these anomalies lest their children receive worse treatment than they are receiving now.
Parents in rural areas, who fail to raise money, are forced to part with grains, chickens and even goats for extra lessons.
To attain Vision 2030, let us deliver to the best of our capability.
Teachers, at all times, should give their all to ensure our children attain the best education.
Extra lessons should not be the means for teachers to earn extra cash.
We need to work as a team, parents and teachers, to deliver the best for our children.
The issue of conducting extra lessons by teachers not only displays lack of professionalism and selfish conduct but is reminiscent of the pre-independence education system which was used as an instrument of oppression, domination and discrimination against the black majority.
Vision 2030 is bringing us a nation that will require numerous skills.
A nation that will need all its citizens to possess skills that will make them fully functional in the information age.
Thus it is critical for our teachers to deliver, unreservedly.