Ultimate magazine theme for WordPress.

Compulsory education welcome

FREE primary education is now compulsory after the enactment of a revolutionary law a fortnight ago.

The Education Act 2010 makes it mandatory for parents or guardians to send their children to primary school.

Failure to do so, according to the new law, can attract a jail sentence or a fine or both for the parents.

We welcome this law which we believe was long overdue.

It’s regrettable that 18 percent of Lesotho’s school-aged children are today not at school not out of choice.

Their parents either deploy them full-time to pastures to herd livestock or confine them to traditional initiation schools at the expense of formal education.

We are in no way against chores that boys are traditionally expected to carry out, such as herding cattle, but their education must be prioritised.

Then we have orphans who are often neglected and not sent to school at all.

Therefore, no country needed a law that makes primary education free and compulsory more than Lesotho, which has the highest proportion of orphans in the world at 12 percent of the population.

The importance of education in our lives cannot be overemphasised.

Education, put simply, can help one differentiate between right and wrong.

It inculcates good qualities and morals in young minds.

Education can also put one’s intellectual potential to maximum use.

Thus we applaud parliament for making it criminal for parents to deny their children a human right enshrined in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In this day and age we cannot have parents — the poorest included — who see education as a luxury.

“A well-informed mind is the best security against the contagion of folly and vice,” wrote English author Ann Radcliffe in the archetypal gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho.

“The vacant mind is ever on the watch for relief, and ready to plunge into error, to escape from the languor of idleness.”

We cannot add anything else to those wise words.

But we have to remind the government that having the Education Act is only the starting point.

A lot is yet to be done if Lesotho is to achieve its education-for-all goals.

A mere Act making primary education compulsory will not simply goad all parents and guardians to send their children to school.

Neither will the radical law guarantee quality education at schools.

We need to know how the government will police parents and guardians who will flout the law.

Yet it’s not even the biggest challenge.

Compulsory education is linked and cannot be divorced from public education.

The government has failed to provide enough public schools, spawning the proliferation of privately owned institutions which are in most cases barely equipped.

And even if the private schools were good, would the government force them to enrol and educate children free of charge?

We expect the government to engage the unregistered schools strewn all over the country with a view to regulate their operations.

That way the government can subsidise such schools so that they too can help in making education accessible to all children.

The challenge is even bigger in the districts where the mountainous terrain makes it hard for children to attend the very few public schools available.

The provision of trained teachers is another key area that the government ought to work hard on.

This also entails that conditions of service as well as salaries for teachers are improved to attract and retain the best in the field.

It is our hope that the government has done its homework.

Otherwise we will have a brilliant yet useless law.

We urge the government to keep on the right track by investing in quality education for our children.

Comments are closed.