A teacher has been forced to handle all 700 students at a school in Shamva after government fired temporary teachers and trained ones could not be found to fill vacancies, it emerged.
Trained teachers have refused to go to newly established resettlement area schools citing lack of facilities, remoteness, violence and interference by war veterans and Zanu PF militias.
Shamva South member of parliament Joseph Mapiki criticized government for failing to avail teachers to resettlement schools.
“You have a school with a total student population of 700, but there is only one teacher teaching all these pupils from Grade 1 to Grade 7,” Mapiki said.
He said Government policy regarding the pupil to teacher ratio in resettlement schools was unclear.
Teacher unions attacked the government for sacking thousands of temporary teachers who were holding positions in the remote schools.
Primary and secondary education minister Lazarus Dokora blamed the public service ministry for not availing teachers to such schools on time.
“The plans which are there between the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and also the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services are that the Public Service Commission has asked us to look at the number of children in the schools so that we have the total population of learners. The Public Service will then allocate teachers according to the student population,” Dokora said. “We realise that if we were to do the pupil teacher ratio at the start of the term, the figures would be distorted because of late registration and late intake of the teachers. This would present problems in that in some cases we would have very large classes and few teachers. Therefore, what is now taking place is; they are working on the pupil teacher ratio between the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Services and my Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.”
Zimbabwe’s education standards have plummeted over the last 30 years with teachers being disgruntled over poor pay and unfavourable working conditions. Hundreds of thousands of teachers trained by the government have fled to neighbouring countries and as far afield as the United Kingdom and the United States, where many are earning better money doing menial jobs or surviving as sex workers. To disguise the falling standards, government has changed the syllabus and examination grading system to give the impression that the pass rate has improved. However, employers complain that although many school leavers have impressive paper qualifications, they perform dismally on the job. Analysts also blame the dilution of exam standards for the collapse of the economy. South African employers have complained that Zimbabwean graduates perform below par despite having ‘strings of A’s’. Corruption has also taken root, with exams being leaked by officials and teachers every year.
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