Abigail Mawonde Herald Correspondent
Zimbabweans have expressed mixed feelings over the Primary and Secondary Education Ministry’s decision to stop publishing the top 100 schools ranked by their performance at Ordinary and Advanced Level national examination results.
On Thursday, the ministry said the announcement of the 100 best schools served no purpose under the new education curriculum framework which incorporated activities such as performing arts, sports, music and dance.
The ministry’s public relations officer, Mr Patrick Zumbo, was quoted as saying since the ranking had been based on academic subjects only, it had become unfair to those other activities adopted in the new curriculum.
He also said the rankings had been in the past creating unnecessary pressure for schools at the top of the list as parents scrambled to secure places for their children there.
While parents were unhappy with the ministry’s position, educationists supported the development, saying the ministry had adopted a good stance.
A parent who only identified herself as Ms Moyo said: “As parents, we feel we are entitled to that information for the benefit of those who want to send their children to the best performing schools.
“In this age of the information society, we certainly deserve to have all that information on our fingertips so that it helps us to make informed choices.”
Another parent who identified himself as Mr Mukudzei Mafa said the ban was ill-advised.
“Instead of banning the list, why not come up with another list incorporating the non-academic activities so that if there are parents interested in these, they will also be well informed,” he said.
“We suggest that the ministry, together with Zimsec, can come up with; for instance the top 100 in music, arts and culture; top 100 in sports and any other relevant categories. This would allow pupils and parents to choose the schools which best serve their focus areas.”
But some educationists had a different perception.
In an interview, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe said: “We seriously think that it is unfair to those schools that are in the rural areas, it is unfair to those schools which are not being given the chance to select students and it is unfair to teachers who work so hard in schools that are not very privileged in terms of infrastructure and learning materials.
“As far as we are concerned, that list is just a fake reflection of what goes on. If a school takes pupils in Form Five with Grade A passes and all of them register 15 points, it is different from a school that admits students with five Cs and are able to produce students with 11 to 12 points.
“Those are the schools that must be rewarded. If you take the best and produce the best, you are not going to be better than those that take mediocre and they produce average.”
Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe chief executive officer Mr Manuel Nyawo echoed the same sentiments.
“I totally and categorically agree with the position taken by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in banning effectively the publishing of those top 100 schools because our question has always been on what criteria are used to determine the pass rate.
“It was not fair that they were comparing schools with different facilities altogether. Pamushana High School in Masvingo has a completely different learning environment and even learning equipment from a school like Kriste Mambo Girls’ High and they compare those schools as if they are operating under the same environment. It was not fair and we always complained about it.”