Extra lessons: Schooling Sunday to Sunday

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LEARNERS in most schools in Manicaland, especially in urban parts of the province, are attending lessons every day of the week as teachers widen their nets in search of additional income from extra lessons, The Manica Post has learnt.

Apart from the supplementary income made from the daily charge of a dollar per learner for the few hours of attending extra lessons, including on Sundays, some school heads sanction the idea because they desperately want to earn high pass-rates.

The Manica Post has established that some primary and secondary schools (names withheld), mainly those near the Central Business District and those in high-density suburbs, were actually opening their gates and classrooms for learners to have lessons, not only after prescribed learning periods from Monday to Friday, but also during weekends.

Ideally, extra lessons have been brisk business for teachers who desperately want to augment their income, given that simple mathematics shows that getting at least 40 learners who attend extra lessons on a dollar daily charge translates to US$40 a day and US$280 a week.

This gives the teacher a total of US$1 220 monthly income from extra lessons only.

This figure is even less for some teachers who attract much more numbers in their extra lessons initiatives.

Sadly, learners who do not pay to attend extra lessons are not given much attention in class by the teacher, and at worst they get a negative attitude from the teacher who is expected to act as a parent in loco to the hapless child.

In their lingo, learners who do not pay to attend extra lessons are “placed in a fridge”.

It has however, emerged that some teachers were just milking parents as nothing much was offered in terms of learning content during extra lessons.

Manicaland Provincial Education Director, Mr Edward Shumba, categorically stated that extra lessons were illegal.

“Extra lessons remain illegal and can lead to disciplinary action being taken against those involved,” said Mr Shumba.

Zimbabwe Rural Teachers’ Association president, Mr Martin Chaburumunda said: “As rural teachers, we condemn them (extra lessons). We do not gain anything from them.

“In fact, extra lessons are divisive. It divides teachers and learners along urban and rural aspects. Where does a child staying with his or grandparents in the countryside get the money for extra lessons? This leaves the urban child with resources at an advantage. Let us not divide these children, they are innocent and deserve equal opportunities.

“The same applies to teachers. Those in urban areas feel comfortable because they are getting money from extra lessons. When we talk of better working conditions, they are not even interested because they know they are covered through extra lessons. It is just bad.”

This week, many parents in Mutare took to social media to air their views on extra lessons.

While the majority condemned the practice citing greediness as the motive on the part of teachers, some felt it is in the interest of learners to have extra lessons even during weekends.

In views expressed on Mutare Community Facebook page, a participant who chose to speak anonymously, introduced the topic by saying: “I do not know who to go and see or talk to about my issue. We know Baring Primary School as one of the best schools, but for you to ask children to come to school even on a Sunday from 7.30am to 4pm is too much.

“Yes, we know you want money as teachers, but I think primary school learners should have time to play; it is important. Surely, a Grade Six learner goes to school Sunday to Sunday!

“I don’t think it is healthy. If it is about money, we can pay extra money on top of the money we are paying for extra lessons from Monday to Friday so that our children are freed during weekends.

“To make matters worse, on a Sunday to Sunday basis, the child is given five homework. My child is now starting to hate school. It is unfortunate that as a parent, I cannot show her that it is also affecting me. Sorry for making this long, but which ever ministry can assist, please help us.”

In the comments section, Mr Mathias Madakadze said: “This is the reason teachers will not speak with one voice when asking for better salaries. Some who are in schools that are conducting extra lessons have no time to look at their pay slips.”

Mr Kundai Masiya weighed in saying: “A clear strategy of milking parents of their money.”

Ms Termy Nemutenzi said: “On a Sunday, learners should be allowed to rest. This is too much.”

Mr Tapfuma Chigavazira wrote: “Even the one who is studying for a degree gets time to rest. Give children time to rest.”

Ms Nyasha Light said: “It is true that we want our kids to pass, and be the best, but it is very essential for them to have time to rest in the learning development of every child.”

Mr Francisco Gololombe said: “Learning from six to six does not mean the child will automatically pass.”

Mr Tatenda Sanhanga said: “This only needs parents to unite and stop this abuse.”

Ms Ropafadzo Mukewa said: “This nonsense must stop.”

But, Ms Noleen Mabanja jumped to the defence of the status quo saying: “Remove your child from a school where they are having too much extra lessons. This is an agreement between parents and the school because they want their children to pass their exams. So the best you can do is to let your child rest during weekends.”

Ms Lee Munhuumwe said: “Is anyone holding a gun to your head, forcing you to send your child for extra lessons? If you do not want that arrangement, stop them from attending.”

As public opinion remains divergent on the matter, some learners are being forced to attend extra lessons fearing that they will lose out when others are attending. – Manica Post