Government recently announced that it had secured US$17 million for the construction of new schools.
The construction of the schools will be carried out by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment and is meant to reduce the distance between schools and help decongest existing schools.
The move is a giant step in the right direction given the prevailing shortage of schools in Zimbabwe, particularly in the resettled farming areas. It should be applauded.
What is now critical for Government is to expeditiously implement the project to deal with existing congesting and hot-seating in some schools. This is the only way we can maintain and improve the quality of education.
If Zimbabwe’s education sector has to deal with demand for education infrastructure caused by dispersion of the country’s population owing to land reforms, it is critical that the Education Ministry follow these people to where they are now with schools.
Cases of children taking classes in makeshift classrooms, established in farm tobacco barns and garages, needs redress and hence the importance of this project.
Over the years Zimbabwe’s schooling system was under threat due to the illegal sanctions.
The sanctions crippled the Government to a point that it could no longer fulfil some of its social obligations resulting in it failing to provide adequate educational infrastructure.
But with a refocus on the country’s economy under the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset) it is imperative that Zimbabwe continues valourising the education of its children.
The decision to add to the number of schools will also ensure that requisite education infrastructure is provided for the thousands of children that relocated to rural areas due to the current economic hardships.
It will also provide access to education for the growing school-going population.
Under the schools construction programme, the Ministry of Youth, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment is expected to provide technicians for the construction of the schools, teachers’ houses and laboratories through its vocational training centres.
This is what we have been missing as a country.
It was most unfortunate that our graduates from the vocational training centres where being thrown into a saturated job market yet they could be tapped to put their technical expertise into practice for the benefit of the entire nation.
But now it is encouraging that they are being tapped to provide a social need.
While this will reduce the cost of constructing the schools, it will also ensure that our youths get the right exposure and experience.
In fact, these trainees can be moulded into building brigades that will then spearhead Zimbabwe’s infrastructure development and rebuilding programme under Zim-Asset.
The building brigades can also be a vital cog in the quest to provide low-cost housing for the majority of Zimbabwe and sprucing up of Government buildings in line with the new economic blueprint.
Zimbabwe cannot continue to produce graduates who end up on the streets selling airtime recharge cards when, in fact, we can deploy them for the good of the nation.
College graduates that complete courses in building and woodwork should be engaged so that they can now build real structures.
This will also promote the idea of vocational training at schools as an option for young people. Not everyone can be an accountant or a doctor. The country also needs people skilled with wood, metal and other hands-on subjects.
Zim-Asset depends largely on the judicious exploitation of Zimbabwe’s abundant human and natural resources. It is premised on the need to achieve sustainable development and social equity anchored on indigenisation, empowerment and employment creation for the country’s development.
The economic blueprint is clear on the need to create employment for the people and particularly for the youths, the energetic sector of the population.
For people to continue to blame everything on sanctions even in areas where we can do it for ourselves is a sign of failure on the part of Government and the entire nation.
This is what we are waiting for – deliverables and not just promises.