COMMENT: Churches crucial to achieving schools target

05 Aug, 2022 - 00:08 0 Views
COMMENT: Churches crucial to achieving schools target Bulawayo Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube

The Chronicle

The Government has announced that the country has a large deficit of schools and learning space at existing ones.

To cover that gap, it plans to facilitate the building of 3 000 schools countrywide over the next three years.

Getting that project rolling, a senior Government official said recently that about $4,69 billion for the construction of 35 model schools in all the country’s 10 provinces has been availed.

Sites at which the schools will be built have been identified.

Nineteen of them will be primary schools with 16 being secondary schools. Of the 35, 25 are satellite schools already operating without proper infrastructure.

The official said the Government targets to build 144 schools, with the rest to be built by the private sector on a financing model that will be beneficial to the investors while widening access to education by the public and easing pressure on the fiscus.

Nationally, there are 9 778 schools where 4 659 993 kids are enrolled.

What lies ahead is an immense challenge.

The 9 778 schools don’t have enough space for all children, hence more classrooms, laboratories and other learning areas are needed.

Because of population growth and new settlements coming up, existing schools are not spread as evenly as they must be for them to cater for all kids who must be at school.

There, too, are many areas that do not have schools at all, among them those that were farms but are now populated following the land reform programme over the past 22 years.

The challenge is not only rural but urban as well.

Cowdray Park in Bulawayo for example, has been growing super-fast in terms of population in recent years.

According to preliminary national census results released last week, the suburb has a population of 75 070, almost double that of Chiredzi town, just 15 000 fewer than Masvingo urban and almost treble Gwanda town’s of 27 143.

The Government clearly does not have enough resources to serve this growing population in terms of provision of education infrastructure, hence its call for the private sector to play a role on a win-win basis.

However, there is yet another essential segment of society that is not like the private sector which delivers for profit.

That segment is just like the Government.

It exists to serve.

It is the Church.

It has delivered education infrastructure and services for decades and is still doing so.

It has delivered health-wise as well.

As we court the private sector to assist the Government in building the 3 000 schools that the country needs by 2025, we need not forget what the Church has done in our history, what it is doing now and what it is capable of doing tomorrow.

And doing all that for no pecuniary return.

We reported on Wednesday the remarkable work that the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints is doing in Bulawayo.

It is building new classroom blocks and refurbishing old ones, building science laboratories and toilets at, among others, Cowdray Park Primary School, Pumula South Secondary, Mncumbatha Secondary School, Mandwandwe High School, Emganwini High School and Maphisa Primary School in the city.

Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Judith Ncube said:

“I am grateful to see a lot of work being carried out by Government in partnership with Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

Most of these new classroom blocks were built and completed in a space of two weeks.

We want more classrooms to address the issue of hot-sitting.

As Government we are happy to note that we have private players who are committed to complementing us in such developmental projects in our province.”

Mrs Jane Ndebele

Acting Provincial Education Director for Bulawayo, Mrs Jane Ndebele said:

“We greatly appreciate the support that we are getting from the church in terms of growth and development of our schools.

Most of our schools are hot-sitting resulting in learners attending lessons for a short time since they will be sharing the learning space.

With these new developments, pupils will spend more time in school and results will improve.”

This and more is what the church has done and can do, with absolutely no expectation for anything in return.

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, like other churches, exists to serve, yes, but they deserve commendation for assisting in building school infrastructure in Bulawayo.

We implore them to expand their work to other towns, rural areas as well as newly resettled areas across the country where the need for more education infrastructure is possibly direr.

We also implore other churches to play the same role so that the Government’s target to build 3 000 schools by 2025 is met.

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