GOVERNMENT has announced that public examinations will start at the end of November for Grade Seven candidates while Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations will start mid-December and extend to next year.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said it introduced catch up strategies to prepare pupils for examinations. It said the strategies included blended learning whereby teachers combine some topics in order to compress the syllabus and online learning.
The ministry said in order to cater for pupils that did not have access to online learning, it distributed modules and study packs to schools that did not have network or signal.
Government said it is aware of the shortage of teachers at some schools and efforts were underway to address the problem. Early this month Government recruited nearly 4 000 teachers and most of them were deployed to rural schools which were facing serious shortages.
The new Government policy is that the teacher to pupil ratio from Grade Three to Form Six should not be higher than 1:35 and 1:20 for Early Childhood Development (ECD).
Teachers’ colleges and universities have churned out more than 20 000 teachers and most of them are unemployed yet schools are facing a shortage of teachers. We want at this juncture to appeal to Government to avail more resources to enable the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry to recruit more teachers so that schools are adequately staffed.
The shortage of teachers is compromising the quality of education and the worst affected are rural schools hence the low pass rate at these schools. The catch up strategies that the ministry introduced can only be effective at schools that have adequate teachers.
The shortage of teachers is more pronounced now when schools have been ordered to reduce the size of classes as part of measures to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is against this background that we want to once again appeal to Government to avail more resources to enable the Education Ministry to employ more teachers.
We are fortunate in that the qualified teachers are there already and some graduated more than three years ago.
School authorities on their part should avoid infringing on the pupils’ right to education by sending them away for non-payment of fees or levies as what used to happen in the past.
In 2011, the Bulawayo High Court ruled that it is parents or guardians who undertake to pay all fees for their children when they bring them to school.
The school authorities should therefore, take legal action against parents in the event of them failing to pay the fees. School fees payment obligation is therefore, a contract between a parent or guardian and the school concerned and not the pupil.