The Sunday News
Vusumuzi Dube, Online News Editor
SCHOOLS in Bubi District in Matabeleland North Province have over the years been performing badly in public examinations and stakeholders have often engaged to find the cause and offer solutions but central to the recommendations is the need for a wholesome approach that ensures everyone plays ball.
The Zanu-PF National Assembly candidate for Bubi constituency, Cde Simelisizwe Sibanda, said he is ready to make it one of his priorities once he goes to Parliament. Some schools in the district, have been posting less than 20 percent pass rate, which is lower than six other districts in the province. In 2021, 51 primary schools in Matabeleland North Province recorded zero percent in Grade 7 examinations, a slight improvement from 85 schools that scored a zero-pass rate percentage in 2020.
Cde Sibanda (SS) spoke to Sunday News Online News Editor, Vusumuzi Dube (VD) where he said he was going to commit himself to the revival of the education sector and improvement of the pass rate in the district. Excerpts of the interview are below.
VD: To those who might not know you, may you tell us a bit about yourself?
SS: My name is Simelisizwe Sibanda, I was born in Mbembeswana 1, which is in Ward 3 Bubi District in Matabeleland North Province, in the year 1980. I did my primary education at Mbembeswane 1 Primary School and my secondary education at Siganda Secondary School. I then went on to do a Diploma in Agriculture at Esigodini and finished in 2001.
I then started working as a teacher at Majiji Secondary School before joining Agritex where I was based in Siganda which are all in Bubi. After that I started working for Non-Governmental Organisations where I gained knowledge in community development. Some of the NGOs I worked for include World Vision, Christian Care, Zimbabwe Project Trust and Orap.
I then later joined Tsholotsho Rural District Council as the executive officer for natural resources until 2019.
In the course of my working career, I also managed to do three Masters Degrees, these being Master of Science in Peace Leadership and Conflict Resolution, Master of Science in Disaster Management and a Master of Science in Biodiversity and Natural Resources. At the moment I am doing my fourth Masters Degree which is a Master of Science in Climate Change.
Therefore, I believe the knowledge I have gained in education as well as the knowledge I have regarding Bubi District, will cause me to positively work with communities so that their lives become much better.
VD: Over the years, what can you say you have learnt, which will contribute to you as a Member of the National Assembly representing Bubi?
SS: In all my years I realised that it is important for communities to partake in matters that will make their lives better. I also learnt that as leaders we should always strive to be in touch with our communities so that as we represent them, we represent them having a first-hand knowledge of their requirements.
With the way I have worked with the communities especially relating to natural resource management, it is important for communities, together with their traditional leadership, they must take a leading role in all this, so as to help develop their respective communities.
When you look at Bubi, it is very much behind in issues to do with education, which has seen some of our schools performing dismally in the public examinations. This has left us as the leadership in Bubi very worried and we are trying all we can to help improve the prevailing situation.
Our youths are also not actively involved in the economic sector. We have to do everything in our power to ensure they depart from the problem of alcohol and substance abuse. This is a challenge which even President Mnangagwa has given us and we have to be actively involved in this and ensure our youths partake in the economic activities of the district. Some of the economic activities in the district which we have include mining and agriculture.
VD: You talk of the education sector and we know the district is the worst performing district in the province, how do you hope to address this problem?
SS: I believe in the education sector, there should be monitoring that takes place but when you look at Bubi it is one of the few, if not the only one which does not have any education offices that do monitoring. In fact, the monitoring offices for the district are located in another province which is Bulawayo.
I will try by all means to engage council to avail stands for the construction of these education offices and the accommodation for education officers. Then we will engage with other stakeholders around Bubi to get materials to construct these amenities. In terms of builders we are aware that our uniformed forces are also involved in such community projects and hence can assist us.
Then we will look at the infrastructure in these schools which is honestly lagging behind, yet we are a mining area. We will work with these mines very closely to see how they can assist us, taking from the Government’s mantra that the nation should be built by its owners.
Even the parents must have a role to play, knowing that if a child is to pass there is a need for the parents to also support them and not leave everything to the teachers. Before I took part in the Zanu-PF primary elections there is an NGO I formed called Life with Dignity through which I was actively involved in uplifting the education sector. I was particularly concerned with the girl child where I assisted 120 girls in the district, giving them school uniforms and other accessories.
VD: You also have a wealth of experience in the natural resource management sector, how do you hope to impart this experience to the community of Bubi?
SS: When I look at the natural resources that Bubi has I feel we have to first look at the fact that for a community to develop you have to look at the ownership of these natural resources by the communities who live in those areas.
This will assist in terms of the sustainable utilization of these natural resources and also the rehabilitation of the area. In Bubi, for example, let us look at the gold, if these mines are not owned by the people in the district, these people will leave the area in a bad state, here we are talking of environment degradation but the local communities can do it in a systematic manner.
Also, let’s say there are companies that are doing natural resources exploitation they have a very big role in terms of making sure that they plough back, once they plough back it means development for the community.
When you look at Bubi, there is CAMPFIRE but when you find out from the communities, they will tell you that they are not even benefiting.
VD: Thank you and good luck in your campaign
SS: Much appreciated.