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Double shift system in schools cannot work

By Vision Reporter

Added 19th February 2008 03:00 AM

The Ministry of Education envisages that the double-shift in secondary schools would be suitable for the increased intake in secondary schools under the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme. However, this has its challenges.

The Ministry of Education envisages that the double-shift in secondary schools would be suitable for the increased intake in secondary schools under the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme. However, this has its challenges.

BY MOSES KALANZI

The Ministry of Education envisages that the double-shift in secondary schools would be suitable for the increased intake in secondary schools under the Universal Secondary Education (USE) programme. However, this has its challenges.

Pupils and teachers may not feel they are part of the school under the shift system. Similarly, at Makerere University, day students are detached from their colleagues in the evening class as a result of the shift system.

Students may not easily identify with one another or feel part of the same school. Proponents of the double-shift strategy have argued that it would reduce institutional costs because two or more groups would use the same facilities.

However, due to increased pressure on the facilities, there would be higher maintenance costs that our small budget for education may not meet. Nevertheless, the double shift policy would have adverse effects on the curriculum, which would affect the education system.

The re-introduction of the system is most likely to harm the time allocated to many subjects that are not regarded as traditionally relevant. When the policy was introduced in Burundi a few years ago, the time allocated to Agriculture and Home Economics subjects was reduced from four to one hour a week.

The shift system would also lead to a cut in the learning hours and this will affect the performance of the students.

The system requires a reduction in the number of teaching hours. Students who attend school from 8:00am to 12:00pm or from 2:00pm to 6:00pm would not get value for their education.

The shift system would, therefore, lead to a reduction in the number of teaching hours per day and this would affect the quality of education the students get. The system also has effects on co-curricular studies that are vital for the meaningful development of a child.

Owing to the tight schedule of the shift system, there would not be time left for the co-curricular studies.

The system also exacerbates indiscipline as shifts provide escape routes against punishment. Some students from one shift may dodge class in order to attend class with their counterparts in a different shift.

With cross-generation sex on the rise, the number of students going to lodges with older men is likely to increase because the students would have half a day to carry out private errands. This would consequently make parents reluctant to send their daughters to schools following the double-shift system.

Monitoring of students between shifts would be difficult as many students would have time to conduct private errands before their shift.

The free time before class could be used by students to engage in undesirable behaviour. This would increase welfare expenses on the side of parents in terms of hospital bills, counselling, replacement of lost school items, and compensation to victims of marauding children.

The system would have a major impact on the learner-teacher relationship because it provides for a limited time for interaction between the teachers and the students. Lack of teacher-student interaction does not only affect academic performance but also undermines discipline.

Where it has been tried in countries like Senegal, the multiple shift policy has been found to cause high maintenance costs to the schools.

Eventually, the system would be rejected by the urban schools which will find problems in containing large student populations.

Just like the Universal Primary Education programme, the system may not achieve the desirable objectives.

The Government should, therefore, first address the issue of infrastructural development and teacher enrolment to handle the situation.

The writer is a student of Education at Makerere University

Double shift system in schools cannot work

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