PRIMARY schooling is universally accepted as the foundation level of education in all nations of the world. It provides the mini-structural framework on which the quality of other levels of education is anchored. Primary education is key to the success or failure of the whole system since the rest of the education structure is built upon it. It is also the foundation for a child’s learning on which every other level depends. It is the primary education graduate that gains admission into secondary education and later proceeds to higher education. In this regard, the output from primary schooling will definitely determine the quality of our entire education system as a country.
Deming, one of the founding fathers of Total Quality Management once said: “Ninty-five percent of the problems in an organisation are attributed to management while five percent are attributed to lack of skills in employees.”
To him, management must be held accountable for the flaws in an organisation because it is management which creates the system which is never perfect. It is, therefore, imperative to note that primary education level is crucial to the success of other levels. The first form of challenge being faced by the primary education sector is the issue of irregular salary scales. Salaries for management positions in the primary education sector are equated to those of junior officers in the secondary school sector despite the job description and purpose being the same for the head teacher at both levels. Worse of all is the salary scale of a senior teacher and primary deputy head who performs the same duties as the head of department and deputy head in a secondary school being equated to that of a subject teacher. What then does equal pay for equal work mean if nothing is done about such irregularities? Despite most primary schools being bigger than most secondary schools in both infrastructure and enrolment, the primary education sector has received little funding for many years. Most primary schools across the country have never felt the warmth of better funding compared to secondary schools. They have not received both the first and second quarter of grants. If secondary school funding is determined by enrolment, what then is the criterion used when funding primary schools? Furthermore, high qualifications at primary education sector are not recognised. It is depressing for someone who invested his/her hard earned money to upgrade themselves and acquired higher qualifications. Managers are imported from the secondary education sector to head primary schools despite some of them not having primary education background. This compromises quality at foundation level.In addition to this, the primary education sector has housed most secondary schools till when they are able to stand on their own. This motherly act and gesture by the primary education sector has seen some schools attain a title of combined schools.
Lastly, the primary education sector is the highest in terms of administrators who are not substantively appointed to their positions and have been acting for more than five years. The State should help address this matter and see to it that these innocent patriots are well taken care of and are given what is due for them.
The author is an educationist in North-Western Province.