The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Civil Service Commission has given the nod to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to employ 5 000 teachers to ease pressure in the country’s schools while further proposing that teachers be proficient in local languages spoken in the district for infant modules.
The proposal to employ teachers proficient in local languages especially those that were previously marginalised is expected to put to rest concerns by communities especially in Matabeleland that their children were taught by people who are not well versed with the learner’s language.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cde Cain Mathema confirmed the development saying they were elated as it meant an improvement in service delivery in the country’s education sector and rescue the zero percent pass rate recorded in some schools.
He, however, lamented the lack of adequate resources for learning and teaching for the competency-based curriculum which was introduced a few years ago.
The minister said there was a need for action to be taken to fill in the gaps. Registration for the teachers started on 25 November.
“We were recently granted authority to hire 5 000 teachers for the 2020 financial year. We are grateful that President Emmerson Mnangagwa allowed us to employ the teachers during such economic times. “We have, as one ministry created 5 000 jobs which is impressive. We have a high unemployment rate and we are making efforts to reduce that by employing more of our professionals who were out of the system due to budgetary constraints. These 5 000 teachers will surely aid the sector in a huge way through an improved service delivery,” he said.
The education sector now has a deficit of 10 000 teachers from the previous 15 000.
Cde Mathema, however, said teaching and learning material for the competency-based curriculum was in short supply with books selling at prices like $1 000 each.
“Our current budget is grossly inadequate to meet the demand for teaching and learning materials for most of our schools especially in rural day schools and satellite schools,” he said.
Panic was growing from worried parents who felt their children would miss out on learning if there were no books availed for them.
“We are working to afford all children and schools in the country the necessary materials for learning as well as teaching material. They may be in short supply at the moment but we promise to deliver as soon as we can,” said Cde Mathema.
Some pupils who are crossing over in to Grade Six said they were told that there were no books under the new curriculum and that they would use books from the old curriculum.
Cde Mathema made a passionate call for the private sector and parents to chip in and assist in providing support.
“The private sector and the parents are called upon to assist in supplying textbooks so that learners have access to reading material. We need to produce enough books so that students can continue with their education undisturbed,” he added.
The minister also said it was not an overnight job to secure all the needed requirements for the new curriculum saying there was a need for a lot of financial investment and help from stakeholders.
He added that access to education and the necessary learning materials were a Constitutional right that all learners from both rural and urban schools deserved.
Cde Mathema said teaching and learning space in schools was inadequate as some schools were still using tobacco barns and grass-thatched classrooms.
He also spoke of the need for more resources to be availed for the construction of teacher’s cottages and further training of teachers in the competence-based curriculum.
The developments in the education sector are, according to a statement released on Friday, going to reduce the number of unqualified teachers as well as multi-grade teaching especially in resettlement areas.
Stakeholders have expressed disappointment over poor infrastructure in some schools and learner performance, particularly e-learning facilities which are affecting the new curriculum.
“E-learning facilities, are they available in those schools that we have people failing dismally? The education, infrastructure is it available or people are just asked to explain the teaching concept and curriculum in theory only? We want to know, it should be disaggregated to see whether there is any relationship between the poor infrastructure and the poor pass rate,” asked Umzingwane Member of Parliament Retired Brigadier-General Levi Mayihlome.