Beaven Dhliwayo Herald Correspondent
Teachers and parents want better conditions and facilities at primary schools, especially in rural schools, to improve Grade 7 pass rates.
This comes as the 2019 Grade Seven national pass rate declined to 46,9 percent from 52,08 percent in 2018.
However, a pass rate of more than 50 percent was recorded in all subjects. Although Grade 7 is an examination in four subjects with results in each subject carrying a mark from 1 (the highest) to 9, it is generally accepted that a level 6 or better is a pass mark in a subject with a pass at Grade Seven being a pass in all four subjects.
Three hundred and twenty-three thousand two hundred and seven (323 207) pupils set for the 2019 Grade Seven examinations, slightly down on last year’s 326 685.
Indigenous languages recorded the highest subject pass rates, with Shona and Ndebele recording above 80 percent. Kalanga, Xichangana and Tshivenda had pass rates above 70 percent, while Tonga and Nambya had a 60 percent pass rate.
In 2019, more girls were registered than boys but this year’s results show a decline in pass rates for both boys and girls. But girls, on average, performed better than boys, as has been the case since 2015, by a margin of 6,34 percent.
There is a general consensus that the learning environment requires improving for the national pass rate to go up.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union (ZIMTA) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said: “There is no stability among rural teachers because they are always seeking for better (working environments).
“This deters continuity in learner-teacher relationship which results in poor results in the long run. Another issue is that the ministry is deploying teachers to communities where they do not speak the indigenous languages.”
Educationist Dr Peter Kwaira said there was need to create a stable environment, as the prevailing situation affected both teachers and students.
“As an academic, the most fundamental factor for good results is a conducive environment. The environment affects all participants; that is parents, pupils and teachers.
“It’s not a blame game but the social welfare of all participants has a negative impact on Grade Seven results. There is need to beef up resources at all primary schools so that we invest in the future generations.
“Some parents are stressed to the extent that they cannot assist their children in doing homework, which is vital for the pupils in the long run. As a nation we should all work together to improve the education environment.”
However, Zimsec board chairman Professor Eddie Mwenje has cautioned the country against ringing the alarm bells yet.
“The issue is that we had just a spike in 2018 but this year’s national pass rate of 46,9 is within the ranges we were getting in the previous five years,” he said.
“We are still happy and hope we maintain the 2018 national pass rate. All participants should thrive to enhance the quality of our educational sector for the betterment of the country.”