By Bridget Mananavire
The online-based registration process for prospective Form One students is optional, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has said.
Parents can physically visit local schools to seek Form One places, the minister told Parliament on Wednesday.
Dokora’s ministry introduced the controversial enrolment in December, with parents complaining that it was done hastily and was discriminatory to people without access to the Internet.
He further said even those who fail Grade Seven should be allowed to get into Form One.
“Now, what are the pressures that school heads confront when they try to fit the volume of candidates who wish to be in boarding and how can we use our Information Communication Technology (ICT) to mediate in that process? This is why we then instituted the e-registration for Form One,” Dokora said during the question and answer session.
“Therefore, you would understand from what I have just said that it is e-registration for those who are interested in going into boarding but only if you live away from the school that you are interested in. Otherwise you walk into your local school and express your interest either in the boarding facility or day school facility.”
Further responding to a question from Zvishavane-Ngezi legislator John Holder on the confusion surrounding the enrolment process, Dokora said 63 percent of students had already been enrolled via the online system to fill in the available 24 000 places.
“We then did we say that we have quantified the number of places that are available for boarding learners. This is the number that I shared with the House at the time, which is 24 000 places.
“Now, you must then look at 24 000 places and say how many of our people want their children to be in boarding? Quite clearly, they are much more than 24 000 and the Grade Seven stream that is going into Form One was 329 549 learners, which means less than seven percent of the Grade Seven pupils would be accommodated in boarding school.”
“How has the system behaved to date? This is how it has behaved. So far, 63 percent of those who have accessed boarding places have gone through online. There are still some vacancies and we are issuing a press release and I can just highlight some of the schools that still have vacancies.”
Holder had asked Dokora how government was solving the Form One enrolment crisis that had been caused by the online registration process.
“Apparently, there are a lot of problems where children are failing to get positions. If he could clarify that to us so that we could really understand. We are having problems in the rural areas,” Holder said.
Dokora also clarified that apart from the 4 500 students who were married or impregnated at Grade Seven, the rest of the students should be enrolled into the formal education system, regardless of score.
“I also alluded to the fact that those we say were able to attain credits; it does not mean they are the only ones who go for Form One but all of them.
“I said that Grade Seven is like a litmus test paper so that we can measure intelligence of the students in terms of numerical, languages and general knowledge. However, we want all pupils to proceed to Form One,” he said.
“So, all the students are proceeding to Form One. This is the largest volume of children getting into Form One because it is a measure of success on our policy that there is no child who is not allowed to proceed to Form One even if parents are complaining about school fees. We want these children to continue. Many of them have survived and that is why we have these figures.
“At the same time, I also said there are about 4 500 students who were married or impregnated. We will meet them through non-formal education policy,” added Dokora. Daily News