Uncle Harvest: OF FREE PRIMARY SCHOOL EDUCATION
The Ministry of Education has reminded all headmasters and administrators of Public Primary Schools of the need to adhere to the Free Primary School Education Policy.
MALAWI: The Ministry of Education has reminded all headmasters and administrators of Public Primary Schools of the need to adhere to the Free Primary School Education Policy.
The Ministry has categorically stated that no learner must be turned away from school for failure to pay any fees or financial contributions.
It further said no monetary contributions must be demanded from learners except for visible development projects.
It is my considered view that policyholders must never resort to " the single story" in policy analysis and enforcement.
Public Primary Schools face several challenges that the measly funding they get cannot meet.
One of such major challenges is the administration of examinations, particularly to Standard 8 learners. These schools, without asking learners to pay examination fees would be administering examinations written on the blackboard. Apart from being a cumbersome process, what this would mean is that learners would write examinations written on paper for the first time during the actual MANEB examinations.
To give learners a feel of the actual examinations, Zone Education Advisors and Headmasters organize zonal examinations for learners. To attain this, learners are asked to contribute examination fees.
This fee goes towards paying for the typing and printing of examinations, purchase of stationery, and logistics. For example, a typing and printing business at Chisanpo 1 in Lilongwe produces such examinations for schools as far as Nsalu and Mitundu every term. Public Primary schools do not have facilities for such work.
This has been going on for over fifteen years now.
Another area that these schools face is that of the physical security of schools. Schools have a requirement to employ Watchmen or security guards to look after school property. Since these guards are not on government payroll the schools ask learners to contribute towards this cost.
There are other challenges that schools can address only through the collection of such fees.
I wish the Ministry could undertake comprehensive research to find out why the policy of free primary education has failed dismally. It has led to the booming of private primary schools in locations in search of quality education which public schools can no longer offer.
Do policyholders in the Ministry of Education live in a bubble that they don't see these challenges? I can bet my neck if somebody found even just 10 percent of the children of these policyholders that go to public schools that person would be the luckiest in the land.
Stop making policies that will apply to the children of the poor only. Look at how 90 percent of the children that are selected to Public Universities are from private and not public schools! (this is a subject for another day)
Time is now that our education policies must meet the needs of the totality of the population(Tonse). Once pronounced that policy must be adequately financed by the government, otherwise do not come out with a policy you cannot pay for. The Free Primary School Education Policy is a huge burden to the poor. It provides them with poor-quality education. Schools do not have sufficient teaching and learning aids.