Stephen Mpofu, Perspective
Whether due to human or inadvertent failures, the Government of the day must now move with speed to end the tragic irony for a country that sits at the top among other nations boasting the highest literacy rating on the African continent.
This discourse is about reported, consistent failure rates at some primary and secondary schools in the Matabeleland region each year as reported by educationists in this paper three days ago.
The specialists in the theory of education claimed that a number of pupils at primary and secondary level in rural Matabeleland consistently recorded zero pass rates in public exams due to inadequate teachers who speak local languages, inadequate learning materials as well as inadequate infrastructure such as classrooms and teachers’ houses.
But surely, are the inadequacies listed by the educationists prevalent only in one Zimbabwean region — in rural Matabeleland, and not rural schools in the other three Zimbabwean regions of Mashonaland, Midlands and Manicaland?
But do the challenges reported in the schools in Matabeleland have a historical bearing, or are they due to neglect in post modern Zimbabwe with, for instance, teachers for whom isiNdebele, a language spoken in the Matabeleland is Greek to them?
If that is the case, does this suggest that the responsible ministry forcibly deploys non-isiNdebele speakers in Matabeleland and not deployed teachers whose mother tongue is isiNdebele in regions where that tongue is not the people’s lingo — and if so for what justifiable reasons?
In any case, the English language as well as indigenous languages are used in both primary and secondary schools as media of instruction — which quashes the claim that pupils fail their exams because teachers cannot speak local languages.
The bottom line here is most likely to be that foreigners exposed to the claims made by the educationists, as stated above, are wont to conclude that schools and their pupils as well as the generality of the population in Matabeleland are discriminated against by the Government as claimed by the complaints tabulated by the educationists in point.
But no evidence exists of any disfavour of a particular region’s schools or population by the Zanu-PF Government, a government of the people, by the people for the people.
But to put an end to this rather tricky and divisive issue once and for all, the Government might wish to carry out a commission of inquiry to discover the real causes of the failures in the Matabeleland schools.
Such a probe should allow not only school authorities but the general public as well —parents and traditional leaders — to provide their points of view so that the crux of challenges in point is addressed for the good of our nation as a whole.
This person suspects that parents of the school going children in the region in question, or at least some of them, may not be playing a leading role by assisting and challenging their offspring to do well in schools because the oldies are tickled by prospects of their young ones consummating the Joza craze, and joining the beeline for jobs in South Africa even while banking on their basic functional literacy —something that has touched off xenophobic attacks by locals there on foreigners reportedly for inundating job markets in that country.
South Africa has historically been viewed by foreigners including Zimbabweans as a job’s treasure trove with large numbers of seekers of green pastures crossing the Limpopo as border jumpers into South Africa with probably the most famous border jumper being Nyasaland’s Hastings Kamuzu Banda who stole across the Limpopo south of Beitbridge and into South Africa where he worked briefly before proceeding to the United States of America to extend his education and then moved on to Europe en route to his native country where Dr Kamuzu Banda became the founding father of independent Malawi from British colonial rule as the political winds of change blew across Africa from the West in the early 60s leaving behind blacks in control of their own destinies after the ouster from power of those without knees.
Ideally, parents in the schools haunted by failure rates in Matabeleland should have mobilised themselves and their resources to provide some of the facilities needed as inducement for teachers to perform their duties as expected in equipping children for a better future armed with high education and requisite skills for economic development.
The potential tragedy as things stand right now is that those possessed by demons of power for power’s sake might, with the chicaneries of those in the post imperial West, target their political power play at wishy-washy Zimbabwean patriots in hopes to score Armageddon as their desired goal.
Should that happen, national unity, peace and security will be imperiled and any desire for a march by our people into a brave new future will remain a pipe-dream ad infitum.
Those with ears to hear must take heed of the dangers that lurk in unbridled political dissent.