Sukulwenkosi Dube Plumtree Correspondent
GOVERNMENT will not remove non-Ndebele speaking teachers from primary schools in Matabeleland as there is a critical shortage of trained teachers, a senior official said yesterday.
Speaking at the commissioning of an administration block at Tjehanga Primary School in Bulilima, Matabeleland South Provincial Education Director, Tumisang Thabela, however, admitted pass rates were low because of this development.
“Children who are being taught by a teacher who is not conversant in their mother language take long to develop. It also takes a long time for the children to be able to relate to their teacher and let alone have an understanding of what they are learning,” she said.
Thabela said the education policy requires children at primary level to be taught in their mother tongue adding: “It is impossible to realise this if the teachers are not conversant in the mother tongue.”
The PED said it was unavoidable to get teachers from other provinces as some trained teachers from Matabeleland did not want to work in rural schools.
“We recorded a performance lag in our schools when trained personnel left the country. A number of teachers shun rural schools especially those in remote areas and the least we can do is fill teaching gaps even if we have to employ personnel from outside.”
Recently, the row over deployment of non-Ndebele speaking teachers in Matabeleland schools spilled into the courts with seven suspects appearing before a magistrate for storming a school and demanding the removal of the headmistress.
The group, comprising villagers from Makuzeze area and Mthwakazi Joint Youth Resolution members, allegedly connived and confronted Makuzeze Primary School head, Victoria Pasipanodya, saying she should leave the school because she is Shona speaking.
Thabela said Bulilima and Mangwe Districts accounted for most of the vacant posts in Matabeleland South.
She said the province was terribly understaffed even in terms of management.
“About 55 percent of teachers that we have in these two districts are trained and the rest are not. In the whole province only 50 percent of the Science teachers and 40 percent of Maths teachers that we have are trained,” said Thabela.
She said throughout the province only Beitbridge District had fully incorporated the local language — TshiVenda — into the education curriculum.
Thabela urged schools to develop infrastructure to facilitate better learning of science subjects.
“If we are going to teach subjects at our schools let us have proper infrastructure and adequate learning material for the purpose. It is of no use if we are going to offer pupils Science subjects but without labs for them to learn from,” she said.
“In fact you will only be issuing children with half-baked information and at the end of the day it will be impossible for them to score high grades.
“Once the laboratories are established they should be fully equipped so that we can produce children that will be competitive on the job market,” she said.
Thabela applauded Tjehanga Primary School and the community for building an administration block, saying it was a significant development in the smooth running of the school.
The school’s headmistress, Tshengisiwe Mtandavari, said the school’s administration staff had been operating from a single room all along.