DAY schools in the country have been ordered to reintroduce “hot-sitting” or “double-sitting” so as to cater for all pupils interested in taking Form One placement.
This comes in the backdrop of a directive from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education not to turn away pupils wanting to enroll for Form One.
“Hot-sitting” is a situation where some students attend classes in the morning and others in the afternoon so that they can share classrooms and other resources at their disposal.
In an interview with Sunday News on Thursday, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora said the country was now dealing with a large pool of pupils who were meant to go to Form One, hence the need to derive strategies to cater for all the pupils.
He said it is understandable that for boarding schools the places can be limited but for day schools enrolment can be stretched to accommodate as many pupils with the reintroduction of hot-sitting.
“As you might know we currently have a total of
1 000 026 pupils in our primary schools countrywide therefore all these pupils should go on to do secondary school education. No one should drop out because they failed to find places, this is very illegal, and we have emphasised this to our all our headmasters.
“While for boarding schools it might be impossible to increase figures because of infrastructure, we are saying for day schools this is not acceptable. We have made it clear that if need be the schools can double or even treble their intakes by taking the route of hot-sitting so as to ensure that everyone gets a Form One place,” said Dr Dokora.
He said while he fully understands the problem of infrastructure within schools there is need for them to work around this to ensure the basic human right of education for all.
“I have said it before and will continue to say it is illegal for any of our school heads to turn away pupils looking for Form One places be it for whatever reason which is why we are now resorting to such strategies,” he said.
Meanwhile, the minister said they had achieved their plans of having all Form One pupils’ enrolment being done on 4 December, saying that 90 percent of the placements were done on the day.
“As you might know this is an ongoing process where we are saying that we want transparency in the way Form One places are given. We don’t want a situation where school heads are now accused of not being transparent in the manner by which they give out these places, hence the reason for us to choose just one day when all this will happen.
For us to further choose one day that was also a means to fight this syndrome of entrance fees where schools were fundraising using these fees. This was our first year in terms of implementation and I can tell you it was highly successful, with a majority of schools managing to give the places on this day as per our instructions,” said Dr Dokora.
The move to come up with 4 December as the only day to give Form One places followed an outcry by parents over the cost of entrance test fees who criss-cross the country in search of Form One places each year. Schools sometimes conduct entrance tests for 500 pupils at $20 each when they only require 100 pupils.
In a statement, Dr Dokora stated that the practice of entrance tests and non-refundable fees was “discriminatory”, adding that in response, Government had issued a circular as part of comprehensive corrective measures.
“Representations have been received to the effect that parents were being subjected to unnecessary financial burden through the payment of the non-refundable entrance test fees or travelling from school to school,” he said.
“This practice is discriminatory and violates the provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment Number 20 of 2013 Section 563) and the Education Act Sections (4) 1) and 4) (2) (b).
“In response to these representations, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education produced the Secretary’s Circular Minute Number 13 of 2015 which provided guidelines on enrolment into Form 1. Enrolment of learners into Form 1 shall be based on Grade 7 results and shall be conducted on a specific date each year across the country.”