Cletus Mushanawani Mash Central Bureau
MASHONALAND Central has a shortage of over 2 600 teachers, while 100 new schools are needed to meet the educational needs of the province. In an interview, the provincial education director, Mr Lloyd Tapuwa Mudiwa, said the situation needed urgent address as it was putting more pressure on the teachers who are forced to work with blotted classes.
Some of the teachers are reportedly teaching two classes, in some cases having a teacher-learner ratio of 1:70 or even more.
A total of 1 698 Early Child Development, 685 (Grade One to Seven) and 203 (secondary schools) teachers are needed for the province.
The province has 407 registered and 100 satellite primary schools as well as 146 registered and 90 satellite secondary schools, bringing the total number to 743. Mr Mudiwa said for the province to effectively compete with traditional education giants like Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East, they need an additional 100 schools for both primary and secondary.
“The freeze on recruitment of teachers is having a telling effect on the education sector in the country.
“Some of our teachers are being overloaded with work and this compromises the quality of education being offered in the province.
“We cannot compete with traditional giants like Manicaland, Masvingo and Mashonaland East,” he said.
Mr Mudiwa said there was also need to de-congest urban primary schools as most of them were over-enrolling learners.
“Rural-to-urban migration is also affecting enrolment in our schools.
“There is need to de-congest schools in urban settlements like Bindura, Mt Darwin, Glendale, Shamva and Mvurwi. Bindura alone need three primary schools.
“Government alone cannot address this challenge, so we are appealing to the private sector and churches to come on board. New schools like the Centre Zimbabwe Africa Church-run, Lady Henrietta and Corner Stone have since opened their doors for enrolment and we encourage more players to follow suit,” he said.
Mr Mudiwa also hailed the coming on board of developmental partners, who are spearheading developmental projects in the province.
“Some of them are developing drip irrigation projects in schools as well as greenhouses and these are benefiting both formal and non-formal learners,” he said.
Mr Mudiwa also bemoaned high school drop-outs in some schools due to gold panning and early child marriages.
In 2017, out of an enrolment of 297 965 primary school pupils, 5 375 dropped out of school for various reasons, which translates to 1,8 percent.
In secondary schools, where there was an enrolment of 84 855 learners, 1 270 (13 percent) also dropped out of school.
“The rate of school drop-outs is worrisome in the province. There are many contributing factors ranging from gold panning, early child marriages to few schools in the province.
“Some of the learners are forced to travel long distances to and from school and this compromises the quality of education,” he said.
As a way of motivating more learners to attend classes, Government has introduced a hot meal every day to cater for ECDs to Grade Seven.
“Government provides maize and rice for hot meals in schools and we are encouraging schools to embark on various projects like horticulture and rearing of small livestock that will help them in supplementing the food they give to learners.
“This is proving to be effective in attracting more learners and schools should continue offering these meals as some of the children are attending classes on empty stomachs,” he said.