We’re starving, say private schools

We’re starving, say private schools

MASERU-OWNERS of private schools in Lesotho, which are reeling under a biting Covid-19 lockdown, have threatened to protest against the government unless they are allowed to reopen.
The spokesman for the Private Schools Association, Limema Phohlo, said they are capable of following the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocols to avoid Covid-19 infections.

He said they are now not able to pay teachers because the schools have been closed since April last year.
Only students who were sitting for national examinations were allowed to resume classes last year.
The lockdown has hit private schools hard.

Phohlo said some teachers were now looking for jobs in other industries.
“We are tired of seeing our teachers joining the textile industry because we cannot pay them,” Phohlo said.
He said the teachers are now thinking of protesting against both the schools and the government yet the issue can be easily solved through dialogue.
He said the Ministry of Education’s principal secretary flatly refused to open the schools.

“The PS even refused to meet us,” he said.
He also said they were once inspected to see if they followed WHO Covid-19 protocols “and the inspectors said we complied, but still the ministry refuses to open our schools”.
Phohlo said the government had initially promised to pay teachers who are on lockdown but that plan was never implemented.

“If the government was paying our teachers when it forced our schools to close, we would not be complaining,” he said.
“The parents are also feeling the pinch yet the schools comply in all ways.”
He said in other countries private schools are open and they were also helped by their governments during the strict lockdown.
“All we are asking for is to continue with our job, we are dying of hunger.”
He said the Principal Secretary had indicated that they were merely complying with directives from the National Covid-19 Secretariat (Nacosec) to keep schools closed.

A parent who spoke to thepost but refused to disclose her name said her child’s school, the Maseru Academy, was still demanding full fees even though her child is not attending physical classes.
She said her child is being taught online which is very expensive.
“We buy laptops and data that cost a lot of money,” she said.
She said the learning is “useless as parents arrive late and tired from work and do not invest enough time to teach their children”.

She said the high school students too cannot understand anything unless their parents hire tutors for them to guide and help them understand whatever they are studying.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education Ntlhoi Motsamai last Saturday reiterated to the nation that all schools should remain closed except for students who are writing their final examinations.

She said both the Junior Certificate (JC) and the Lesotho General Certificate of Secondary Education (LGCSE) examinations that started in January and were stopped by the lockdown will continue from February 22 until March 31.
She added that the Examination Council of Lesotho (ECOL) will revise and publish the new exams timetable.

Nkheli Liphoto

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