Form One online intake under attack
Whinsley Masara, Chronicle Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) has described Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora’s directive that pupils should apply for Form One places online as a unworkable and meant to disadvantage pupils in rural areas.
Last Friday Dr Dokora announced an electronic application system for Form One boarding places for 2017 as part of a raft of measures to fight corruption.
Zimta chief executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said the system was exclusive and will only benefit those with access to internet.
Mr Ndlovu said those in rural areas would be the most affected by the new guidelines.
He blamed the Education Ministry for waiting until the last minute to announce the new system, yet it had the whole year to do so.
“Online enrolment will only cause more confusion and corruption as parents will flock to schools to have their children enrolled at the last minute.
We don’t see it as a progressive move but instead it will deny many children the opportunity to be enrolled into boarding schools,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said the system would marginalise people especially those in the rural areas as they lag behind when it comes to technology.
“It is not easy to access the network and let alone the internet in rural areas. Even those with smart phones may not be able to access the internet.
“This will obviously become a barrier to the already disadvantaged pupils as it is an exclusive system that will benefit only those with access to the internet,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said it was a fact that most households in the country do not have access to internet.
“How does the ministry then expect parents to sit at home and make choices of schools on the internet when they don’t have access to it?” he asked.
Mr Ndlovu praised schools that have ignored the directive and enrolled pupils the normal way.
“We encourage them to continue enrolling the pupils using the old system as opposed to this complex internet system meant to benefit a few,” he said.
A headmaster at a boarding school in Matabeleland South criticised the new system which he said was not feasible given the disparity between urban and rural pupils when it comes to access to the internet.
“This system is likely to perpetuate disadvantaging rural pupils as they do not have access to the internet. What this means is that those in remote places such as Binga will not get places at boarding schools,” he said.
A concerned Bulawayo parent, Mr Walter Ncube said the new requirement brings some challenges with it and the Government should urgently review it.
Meanwhile, our Harare Bureau reports that Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa has summoned Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora to explain the confusion surrounding next year’s Form One entrance criteria.
This comes in the wake of another boob by the same Ministry through the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council where some schools are reportedly yet to receive their Grade 7 results.
Parents complained last week that only results for Harare schools were released.
Dr Dokora said the ministerial online application system was expected to be operationalised soon.
Stakeholders attending the 2016 Business Review Conference organised by the Zimbabwe Chamber of Commerce yesterday took advantage to seek clarification on Government position regarding the policy inconsistencies in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
Of particular concern was the proposed e-enrolment for 2017 Form One places.
VP Mnangagwa said he was also in the dark on what the proposed electronic enrolment entailed and how it worked.
He said he had summoned Dr Dokora to explain himself on the matter.
“On that one we are on the same page my brother (of not understanding),” he said. “This morning I called the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to come and explain to me this afternoon his statement. I asked him to come and brief me because there are a lot of grey areas. I said to him who is fighting who? I said to him is it the parents who are not understanding you or is it you who is not understanding the parents or both of you are misunderstanding where you want to go?”
Last week parents who wanted to secure Form One places for children after the announcement that Grade Seven results were ready for collection said they were forced to wait after they were advised that they could not collect the results.
One parent who spoke to Harare Bureau, Mr Garikai Manyowa, said: “We cannot do anything because the schools have not released the results for our children. We are told that the Ministry had ordered that schools should stop releasing the results?”
VP Mnangagwa said he would be in a position to give a more comprehensive and definitive answer after meeting Dr Dokora. Dr Dokora is not new to controversy as he drew criticism from parents early this year after he banned Scripture Unions in Schools.
Irked by the move, some parents protested at his offices.
He also hogged the limelight following the introduction of the national pledge which most schools are still reluctant to implement.
Although the national pledge is not a new thing the world over, the Ministry did not explain it in a manner that convinced most school authorities and parents.