42 years on: Govt says schools with zero % pass-rate have no infrastructure
The Zanu-PF government has failed to build proper school infrastructure in rural communities 42 years since Zimbabwe attained independence resulting in many children performing poorly in education.
Matabeleland North senator Sikhanyisiwe Mpofu on Thursday asked the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Edgar Moyo about the government policy on schools that produce a zero pass rate for Grade 7 examinations.
She further asked the causes of such and the assistance which is given to those schools.
In response, the Deputy Minister said poor infrastructure and leadership in satellite schools was the cause of such poor performance.
“Thank you very much Hon. Senator for that question. There are schools in this country and there are many of them in all provinces that have previously produced zero percent. We have gone on to identify the causes and remedies that we need to institute and mitigate that element of zero percent.
On the causes, she said “we have observed that most of these schools that get zero percent are non-established schools which are satellite schools. These are small schools mainly in farming areas where there is no sufficient infrastructure and the number of teachers are small.
“Let me quickly explain that the number of teachers given to a school depends on the enrolment. The fewer the students in a school, the lower the number of teachers in that particular school.
“That then results in composite classes where you find ECD to Grade 7 having less than 50 students. Subsequently, the pupil to teacher ratio in primary schools is 1:40. It is that scenario where this non-viable school has around 50 students; you will find that ordinarily there will be one teacher.
“But then we have a formulae of calculating teachers in such unviable schools where we say in the primary sector, we would give up to three teachers and that creates composite classes where you may find ECD A, D and Grade 1 being taught by one teacher and Grade 2, 3 and 4 taught by another teacher.
“In that composite atmosphere, the quality of education gets compromised. Also the assistance that we derive from the payment of levies is very weak because of the numbers of students in that school.
“Coming to remedies, we are encouraging parents to support their schools by sending their children to those schools so as to boost the numbers and increase the number of teachers.
“We are also assisting them under School Improvement Grant (SIG) which is a grant that is given to such unviable schools for the purposes of procuring furniture and text books and in some instances for infrastructure development.
“We also ensure that we try as much as possible to create an attraction through accommodation and other amenities for teachers to go to those schools. Most of those schools have poor infrastructure and do not attract teachers. There is high teacher turnover as they just come for a term and seek transfers.”
In an interview with Nehanda Radio, political activist Pride Mkono slammed the government for allocating inadequate resources towards education.
“This so-called second republic doesn’t care about education that is why it has consistently allocated inadequate resources through the national budget.
“Since 2018, allocation to education has been averaging 13% of the total budget which is way below the Dakar Declaration threshold of at least 20% of national budget being allocated towards education.
“The irony lost to the deputy minister in his remarks is that it is not the school leadership that has failed but the national leadership. It is the ministry and government broadly who have failed the education sector, undermined the right to education and let the nation down,” he said.