Blame game over dismal JC results

Blame game over dismal JC results

MASERU-The Junior Certificate (JC) results which were released on Monday were dismal sparking a blame game between the Ministry of Education and teachers.
Only 62.4 percent of students who set for the exam last year passed, which represents a massive drop. The pass rate was between 64 and 69 percent over the last four years.
Only 14 988 students sat for the JC exams last year. That figure normally stands between 22 308 and 21 319.

The worst performing school is Tlohelang Secondary School in Sinxondo, Quthing, where all 21 students who sat for the examination failed.
The principal, Manganane Marake, has shifted the blame squarely on the shoulders of the government.
Marake said the government’s failure to resolve a long-running strike by teachers had a devastating impact on his school.
He said very little learning took place at his school due to the strike.

“Some teachers were willing to rest at their homes and that was a big advantage to them,” he said.
He said he shouldered all the teaching responsibilities on his own until much later when he was joined by another teacher.
But that was already too late for the students, he said.

Marake insisted that the government should take the flak for the bad academic results.
He said the government’s lethargic response to the teachers’ grievances came back to haunt the students.
“So it is for this reason that my school has suffered,” Marake said.

Besides the strike by teachers, Marake said most students at the school stay far away from the school and have to walk long distances to attend classes.
The environment in which the students live was also quite toxic, he said. He said most villagers there have very little appreciation of the role of education in rolling back poverty.
To them going to school is just a means to keep them busy, the principal said.

“They have that bad habit of leaving school for marriage at an early age or go to initiation school,” he said.
He said students in the area do not have adequate resources which demotivates them from proceeding with their education.
“We do not have a science lab, kitchen, or even the books,” Marake said.

He said they also do not have water in the school yard and as a result, students often ask to go and fetch water and never come back to school.
Even during lunch-time Marake said the students will just disappear and go home, only to come back the next day.
He said his school is experiencing a high rate of dropouts.
He said teachers also live far away from the school premises.

When the shearing season for goats and sheep sets in, some students drop out of school and go for shearing and “they will never come back to school”.
Marake said since they are close to the border, some pupils just decide to cross to South Africa hunting for jobs.
“They do not even know how to write Sesotho because they speak isiXhosa,” he said.
The principal of Molapo High School, who is a member of the Lesotho School Principals Association (LESPA), Moses Phoole, also blamed the teachers’ strike for the dismal results.
Molapo High School performed well with 16 students who passed with a merit, 31 first class passes, 81 with second class and only two third class passes.

No student failed at the school.
The principal said some teachers abandoned classes during the protests for better pay and working conditions.
“We are not happy at all with what happened to our children, we went to the strike and this has made our children to fail,” Phoole said.
He said the strike has cost them a lot.

He said the strike had split the teachers because some were paid and others were not.
Phoole said the matter was allowed to drag this far because the government had refused to bow to the teachers’ demands.
He said while this is a new year the government had still not responded to them.

He argued that the trust and confidence between the government and the teachers had suffered irretrievably.
“The government promised us a lot but it never fulfilled even any of the promises it made to us,” he said.
Letsatsi Ntsibolane, a member of the Lesotho Association for Teachers (LAT), said the strike had a huge impact on the pass rate of the students.
He said the students’ pass rate deteriorated significantly because of the strike.

“Although teachers went on strike, the government is the one to blame for taking our problems for granted,” Ntsibolane said.
“Police went on strike for a day, and the government dealt with their issue urgently,” he said.
He also said that the government dealt with the wool and mohair saga swiftly only for it to take ages to resolve their grievances.
Ntsibolane said they want to go back to work to help students with their work but they are yet to have meetings with the government to map the way forward.
“I am not sure what the teachers will say but they will decide what they want to do, then we will take it from there,” he said.

The Principal Secretary for Education, Dr Neo Liphoto, said the teachers were wrongly blaming the government for their negligence.
Dr Liphoto said ever since he got into the office they have been working on teachers’ issues till today.
“So I think both the government and teachers are to be blamed for not doing their job,” Dr Liphoto said.
“Teachers should have continued teaching students while on the other side we are dealing with their issue too,” he said.

Thooe Ramolibeli

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