’Shape Up or Ship Out’ – Makgone

Deputy Minister of Education Sylvia Makgone has told teachers in the Karas Region in no uncertain terms to either shape up or ship out, in one of her now customary dressing-down sessions during a tour to the region last week. Makgone shared her displeasure with the sorry state of affairs at schools in the region during a consultative meeting with teachers principals, parents, learners and school board members at the Suiderlig High School Hall.

According to her, the majority of learners at the schools she had visited could only show school work equivalent to four lessons, despite the fact that schools started two months ago. “For [teachers] it is just about me, me. We forget that schooling will not be there without the learners that we have forgotten. I could see there are activities taking place, but it is just window-dressing to show something is taking place. But the only thing that can really show that something is going on are the books of the learners. I looked at the books to see if they get their fair share [of teaching]. I was disappointed to find only four lessons, four pages of work,” she said. Makgone further said “all that the teachers could say in their own defence was that the learners could not read and write.”

“Do you not realise that the fact that the children cannot read and write reflects on you as the teachers. The reason parents send their children to school is because they have put that trust in you since you are trained to do that. Do you expect my child to whom I have just given birth to be able to read and write?” she asked the teachers present. She urged the teachers to conduct serious introspection and to take ownership of the failure rate of their schools and to ask themselves what they would make of a situation in which a Grade 10 learner does not know how to write different types of compositions.

She also lamented the obvious failure of education inspectors to detect problems at the schools that they are supposed to visit. “I have found not one single report from an inspector through all the schools that I have visited. Not a single school has a charge of misconduct, but people are not doing their jobs. That is neglect of duty and that is why we have learners who cannot read and write. They were neglected somewhere in the system. Why should I come from Windhoek to point out problems if there is leadership in the region?” Makgone asked.

She further criticised teachers saying some of their conduct is such that they should actually return their salaries to the Ministry of Finance. “We have stolen money, we have stolen lives. Look at the learners that we have sent to the streets. Let’s eat the money for the time being, but know that one day you will account for what you have done,” she said. She also did not spare school board members and asked them why they have allowed the situation to continue.

“What did you do about the children who failed year out and year in? As school board members you represent the parents, so how you did you address this problem with the involvement of parents. Did you have meetings with parents to explain to them that their children are failing?” she asked. Makgone also urged parents to discipline their children at home and if necessary to drag them into the school yards and not to blame teachers for the conduct of their ill-behaved children.

The deputy education minister visited nine schools in the Karas Region at Tses, Berseba, Koumles and Keetmanshoop during the tour.

Source : New Era