Incentives needed to end shortage of Form One places


The many challenges parents and their children face as they struggle to gain an education would be less were the teachers, their employer the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) and private school owners to close ranks and work as a team. The Government could also help by being an impartial arbiter whenever disputes arise between the three parties.

Take the issue of the 200,000 students who will be locked out of the secondary schools. There is reason to believe that owners of private academies could be encouraged to invest in building and equipping secondary schools were the Government to offer them the necessary incentives.

These could take the form of free, or subsidised, land or provision of qualified teachers once the schools are ready to admit students. This would also reduce the number of qualified students competing for admission into public secondary schools. The corollary is that more students from public primary schools would gain admission into secondary schools.

This would reduce the number of students coerced to join polytechnics because they could not get admission to secondary schools. An even better option would be to turn the polytechnics into technical secondary schools so that the students joining them would benefit from getting an academic education together with a technical one giving them the freedom to pursue either after graduation.

Obviously, these schools would cost more to build, equip and run. But, just as clearly, their benefits would far outweigh their costs. This is where enlightened leadership at the devolved county Governments could make a huge difference by not only championing these types of hybrid schools but also offering to meet part of the costs.

The setting of maximum fees that schools can charge is an exercise that requires regular consultations between all the stakeholders. The debate should cover the sanctions to be imposed on head teachers who flout the rules.

The practice of transferring teachers due to their questionable management practices should be discouraged at all costs.  There is a crying need to devise a better way aimed at solving the problem once and for all.

This would reduce the number of incidents where parents and students feel they are being victimized by being forced to accept teachers who have failed elsewhere.

Indeed, the whole area of transfer of school heads — and other teachers — requires streamlining to ensure a sense of equity is maintained among all the parties concerned. But the bottom line is that teachers—in all categories — should accept to teach anywhere in the country because this is part of the contract they sign when they join the profession.

The current practice where some teachers stay in one area—usually where they hail from—for so long that they establish and run multiple businesses should not be tolerated. This is because no one can serve two masters. At least, not with the efficiency the job demands.