Mambwe District Education Board Secretary Christine Sinyangwe has advised schools in the area to create more classes to lessen.
Stating that the overcrowding is due to increased pupil population following the new dawn government’s introduction of the free education policy, Mrs Sinyangwe said there is need for schools in the area to build more classrooms to accommodate the increased number of pupils some of whom she said have nowhere to sit during lessons.
“The free education policy has received positive response from many people and as such, we have a situation where classrooms are getting overcrowded,” Ms Sinyangwe said during an interview.
She explained that to help reduce on overcrowding in some schools, her office is consulting with some school authorities to create more classes for some grades.
“As an alternative, we have discussed with school authorities to open up more classes to accommodate learners. In Mphomwa for instance, there is only one school that has a class for grade eights.
“ And so, instead of pupils trekking to Chisengu which is approximately 25km and too long a distance for pupils to walk, we have decided to have another grade eight classroom opened,” Ms Sinyangwe said.
She sad that the free education policy has also encouraged many people to upgrade their education standards seen by the increased enrolment at adult education level.
“The other day, my office received some adults who wanted to enroll and sit for grade seven examinations. One of them was 23 years old.
“ This only shows that the free education policy is a positive move which will give an opportunity to those who did not have the chance to go to school due to lack of funds,” Ms Sinyangwe said.
And the District Education Officer further called on government to deploy more teachers saying following the free education policy, the teacher – pupil ratio has also increased.
“Before the free education policy was introduced, the ratio of teacher to pupil was at an average of 1:59 but now because of the high enrolments, the number of pupils has increased while the number of teachers is still static,” she said.
She said the gap of teacher to pupil ratio might be compounded by most teachers leaving the district to go and join their spouses working in other towns.
“Also, we have received an overwhelming response from some teachers wanting to leave and join their spouses permanently. This will also negatively affect us, which is why we need the government to deploy more teachers in order to close the gap that will be left by the teachers who want transfers,” she said.
Meanwhile, Fredrick Banda, a parent , has applauded the government for introducing the free education policy stating that the development has made it possible for parents to send their children to school without hesitation.
“This policy is welcome. For instance, I am able to channel the money I was supposed to pay for my school going children to other things that need attention at home. What the government has done is very commendable,” he said.