By Leonard Ncube
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is investigating alleged absenteeism from school by teachers in Binga district because of lack of supervision by district officials.
The alarm was raised through an anonymous letter written to the ministry by concerned Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) officers who were in the district carrying out voter education and inspection between May 15 and June 14.
The unnamed officers who were camped in different schools were concerned after seeing pupils playing during lesson time as teachers allegedly went AWOL for some days.
The Zec officers allegedly did random checks especially in Sinagonde and Kabuba wards and discovered that in most schools some of the teachers were not around.
A tip-off was made to the ministry alleging that the District Schools Inspector (DSI) Mr Edson Masungo was “sleeping on duty” as he had not visited some schools since his deployment in 2011.
Some of the worst affected schools include Chezya primary and secondary, Chabuya, Kajijima, Chisawu, Kaboma, Maacha, Sinamsanga and Zyakamana (all primary).
The situation has been blamed for poor pass rates in many schools in Binga district.
Mr Masungo said the allegations that he doesn’t inspect schools are not true and shifted the blame to school heads.
“They could be referring to new schools because we have had several new institutions being opened. But in any case it’s the head’s duty to monitor schools,” he said.
Mr Masungo said he should be commended for ensuring that more schools are opened in Binga.
“Since I came here, there are now 130 primary schools up from 57 while secondary schools have risen from 13 to 45 with total enrolment rising from 38 000 to 60 000,” he added.
Mr Masungo is not new to controversy.
Early this year he clashed with parents with children attending Lubimbi High School for allegedly protecting a teacher who had impregnated a pupil.
The teacher had been suspended by the school head and Mr Masungo ordered his reinstatement thereby sparking outrage from parents.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Silvia Utete-Masango said the ministry is investigating the issue.
She was speaking in an interview in Victoria Falls recently where she said DSIs are mandated to monitor schools.
“We don’t condone truancy by teachers. We expect the District Schools Inspector and his or her team to visit every school in their district at least once a term.
“This is an issue that will need to be investigated,” she said.
Meanwhile, Dr Utete-Masango said government was concerned about sprouting unregistered schools around the country.
She said heads of conventional schools had been tasked to identify such institutions and encourage them to register.
None of the unregistered schools will be closed, the Permanent Secretary said.
“Schools on the ground should take note of unregistered institutions and if they conform they get registered so that learners can have quality education.
“We are not saying we don’t want private people coming into the education system, we are saying they should conform,” she said. The Chronicle