Empowering high school teachers

Empowering high school teachers

ROMA – He is guided by quite a simple philosophy — he loves high school teachers and their kids.
Patrick Bukenya, a National University of Lesotho (NUL) based author of the two famous high school books, “Introduction to Business Studies” and “Understanding Accounting” is a Business Administration Lecturer in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

He is leading a team of highly motivated NUL lecturers intent on sharing the principles of Business Studies and Economics with high school teachers for the benefit of the high school students.
They do it for free!
Business Studies is a very dynamic subject and high school teachers need to keep up with racing developments in the area, Bukenya says.
As for Economics, many high school teachers are less than prepared to teach the newly introduced subject.
So Bukenya’s love for these teachers, and their kids, drove him into making a call for action.

He blew a horn among his colleagues to assist and those who heeded the first call include Dr Motšelisi Mokhethi, Retšelisitsoe Thamae, Leseko Makhetha, Joseph Thabana and Mosa Thaanyane from the NUL Departments of Business Studies, Economics and the Faculty of Education.

“We also have two of our alumni assisting, who are Tšepang Leferefere and Halala Mahao, and we have an external member Deo Tuipende,” Bukenya says.
The dedicated team assisted him to gather an army of Business Studies and Economics high school teachers from all over Lesotho to share the latest information with them.
In one such call, more than 50 of the teachers showed up at NUL-IEMS — from every corner of the Mountain Kingdom.
There have been seven one-day gatherings so far.

Bukenya and his team were not prepared for what would be their reaction.
“Very effective…an eye opener,” says one happy teacher about what he had just learned.
“Why don’t we have more than one course every quarter or so?” asked another one.
“Why was it just a one day exercise?” yet another one inquired rhetorically, obviously disappointed by the briefness of the unforgettable experience.
“Let it be no less than three days in a row per session,” she added.

The mood was the same for all of them.
“We need more!” they said.
What sparked a desire to assist?
Bukenya is an author.

“I wrote two books that are now used by Lesotho high school students — “Introduction to Business Studies” and “Understanding Accounting.””
In writing the books, he was thrown very close to realities on the ground — the following realities.
Once in time, the Ministry of Education decided to introduce Business Studies and Economics at high school level — for a good reason.
“Students used to study what was then called commerce. That subject proved to be very theoretical, obviously lacking in practical aspects that would yield entrepreneurs.”
So the syllabus was revamped and the subject is now called Business Studies.
It is much more practical.

Completing high school students can now move straight into business, at least, that is the intention.
Economics was also introduced to reflect modern trends.
But there was a problem.

NUL Education students, who often become high school teachers, are hardly equipped to teach Economics as a subject.
But the subject is there and it has to be taught.
“Of course a few graduates of Economics have decided to take NUL’s Post Graduate Diploma in Education and they are now excelling Economics teachers,” Bukenya says.
However, by and large, other teachers need assistance.

The problem, he says, also goes beyond just limited grounding among teachers.
Teachers, like all employees in the 21st century, need what Bukenya calls Continuous Professional Development.
Every institution knows that it needs to continually provide professional development courses to its employees.
For instance, the business thinking is forever changing.

“Who knew that today we would be talking about digital currency (bitcoin, to mention one)?” Bukenya asks.
And who said teachers don’t need to keep up with such and similar developments?
That is why, despite its limited resources, NUL is intervening.

Actually, it is part of NUL’s strategic goal, the so-called third mission, to intervene in the community.
“That is yet another reason why we do what we do, NUL’s intention is to get visible in the society these days.”
This work is sustainable for the following reasons: NUL has manpower and provides free space at IEMS.
High schools provide funding for transport of teachers and their food.
It’s a win-win!

Even as the ever broadening NUL team prepares for more encounters with the teachers, the NUL Centre for Teaching and Learning led by Dr Pulane Lefoka, has assisted them to open yet another front. “We have just had another encounter, now with principals from 35 different high schools!” Bukenya says.
They too, came from the breadth and depth of the Mountain Kingdom.

They were here for a different reason.
They wanted to get insight into the principles of Performance Management and how they could apply them in their schools.
They, like the teachers before them, more than liked what they learned.

Own Correspondent

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