Breaking News

Zimbabwe's education sector on the road to recovery

by Staff reporter
24 January 2013 | 4280 Views
Zimbabwe's education system, once regarded as the finest on the continent, was a casualty of the country's economic meltdown in the 2000s, when it nearly collapsed - but lately there have been signs of recovery.

The education malaise was widely blamed on hyperinflation, which made teachers' salaries worthless and funding for school materials and maintenance impossible.

But with economic reforms of 2009 and the establishment of a donor funding mechanism, the school system is seeing modest, gradual improvement. Still, vast challenges - from poor infrastructure to teacher shortages - remain.

A turnaround
David Coltart, the education minister, told IRIN that the country's education crisis actually predates hyperinflation.

"Contrary to what many people think, the downward spiral began long before hyperinflation occurred. It started with the sector not getting as much as it got during the first 10 years of independence," he said. Zimbabwe gained independence from Britain in 1980.

The education system's deterioration accelerated under the effects of hyperinflation. Then, in early 2009 the country ditched its local currency and adopted a multi-currency financial system using the US dollar, the Botswana pula and the South African rand, ending hyperinflation overnight.

By the time Coltart assumed his post in February 2009 - after the opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, entered a government of national unity with President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party - the economy was beginning to turn around.

Coltart found the education system "chaotic", with schools closed, teachers on strike and infrastructure in a state of disrepair. One of the first steps towards overhauling it was the establishment of the Education Transition Fund (ETF), a mechanism to allow donors control over their funds.

"The way the fund works is the donor community provides funding, I chair the education transition fund meetings, and UNICEF [the UN Children's Fund] is the ultimate manager of the fund. So we reach consensus regarding how the money is to be spent, and the ministry decides what its priorities are," Coltart explained.

Funding for the ETF varies from year to year. A variety of donors - including the European Commission and the governments of Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the UK and the US - contribute to the fund, which UNICEF then administers.

In 2012, the ETF was funded to the tune of about US$12 million, and in 2013, $25 million is earmarked for it, UNICEF said in a statement.

Green shoots of recovery
Hyperinflation had prevented the publication of school textbooks. "In some schools, as many as 15 pupils shared a textbook, while in some rural schools only the teacher had a bedraggled textbook," Coltart said.

Julia Mapondera, principal of Gwinyai Public Primary School in Mbare, a poor neighbourhood in the capital, Harare, told IRIN that erratic attendance by students and teachers, combined with the unavailability of text books, proved a toxic mix.

Prior to the crisis, students learned to read and write in their first year of school; student Kelvin Bimha, now 11, didn't gain those skills until his fourth year, and then only with the assistance of remedial classes during the holidays.

Donor funding has since helped address the textbook shortage; the pupil-to-book ratio is now one-to-one, Coltart said. Next are plans for the distribution of non-academic books to encourage a culture of reading; $9 million is budgeted for this in 2013, with donor support through the ETF.

At the height of the crisis, in 2008 - during which food insecurity and waterborne disease were widespread, and schooling was disrupted by political violence and teacher strikes - the pass rate for the final year of primary school dropped to 52 percent. The previous year, it had been 70 percent.

In 2009, only 39 percent of those who sat for the final-year exams passed. It has since improved, with 2010 seeing a pass rate of 42 percent and 2011 a rate of 45 percent.

Still, Coltart expects the pass rate to remain low for several years and then gradually improve.

Long way to go
Principal Mapondera says lack of infrastructure continues to undermine the education system. In 2012, the number of students at Gwinyai was close to 2,000 - nearly double its intended capacity. The overcrowding has led to a practice known as "hot seating", in which some children attend morning classes and others attend afternoon classes.

Coltart says the situation is not unique to Gwinyai. "We've got 8,000 schools. If you go to most of these schools, you'll see the infrastructure is crumbling - schools not being maintained, toilets in a terrible state of disrepair. Many schools don't have desks, don't have blackboards."

He said the $500,000 from the 2012 national budget for school maintenance was "less than drop in the ocean", and his ministry would be seeking donor assistance. "We could spend a billion dollars on the education sector, and we wouldn't address all these structural problems."

The education budget for 2012-2013 is $750 million. More than half of this, Coltart says, goes to primary and high school teachers' salaries, which average about $300 a month.

During the hyperinflation years, many teachers just walked off the job, as their salaries fell to the equivalent of $1 or less a month. The ministry has declared an amnesty for these teachers, and many have returned. But many others moved to other countries in search of employment and better salaries, and it has proved difficult to lure them back. It is estimated that 20,000 teachers left the country between 2007 and 2009.

There are currently about 106,000 teachers; about 30,000 more are required. However, even if the teacher target is achieved, Coltart says, there will not be enough classrooms available for them to teach in.

He says the government's relationship with the teachers' unions - such as the Zimbabwe Teachers Association and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe - is improving. But threats of strikes are never far from the surface.




The education sector had been stabilized, but remains fragile. "Until we see literacy rates starting to improve, until we see grade 7 [the final year of primary school] examination results getting back to the levels they were perhaps 10 years ago, I will remain concerned about the education sector," he said.

im/go/rz


Education

Source: irinnews

Could there be war if Grace Mugabe becomes President?

Yes
75.15%
No
8.88%
Who cares?
15.98%
338

Comments

Latest Classifieds (Click Here For More)

News Updates

Email:

Latest News

Eziko Theatre Laboratory - WhatsApp update

by Byo Residents | 24 October 2014 | 1076 Views

'Mujuru's US ties behind fallout with Mugabe' - VICE-PRESIDENT Joice M...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4678 Views

Maid steals from dead employer - A MAID who had an affair with her la...

by Thubelihle Mabhena | 24 October 2014 | 3123 Views

'Joice Mujuru is corrupt and incompetent,' says Grace Mugabe - The Fir...

by Farirai Machivenyika and Felex Share | 24 October 2014 | 2090 Views

Makoni, leave Grace Mugabe alone - The First Lady is a natural pick by...

by Suitable Kajau | 24 October 2014 | 3433 Views

Man rapes donkey - A Tsholotsho teenager was arrested by after village...

by Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2241 Views

Prisoner admits to sodomising inmate - A 31 year old inmate at Khami M...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2917 Views

Sangoma (72) rapes minor - A 72 year old traditional healer allegedly ...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2301 Views

Tsvangirai faces eviction from Highlands' mansion - MDC-T leader Morga...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 5043 Views

MDC factions headed for a clash - The two MDC formations that currentl...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2602 Views

'Mujuru's political future in Mugabe's hands' - Vice-President Joice M...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4713 Views

Grace Mugabe admits elevating Mujuru - First Lady Grace Mugabe yesterd...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2455 Views

Mugabe refuses to ditch Parly colonial bling - President Robert Mugabe...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2463 Views

Karikoga Kaseke sabotages Dr Grace Mugabe rally - Zimbabwe Tourism Aut...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3457 Views

Mujuru hit by phony cyber campaign - The Zanu-PF propaganda wars and m...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3429 Views

Zanu-PF's team Gamatox vs Team Zvipfukuto - Line-ups - As President R...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4888 Views

Robert Mugabe faces internal revolt - PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is facin...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3973 Views

Grace Mugabe's War Vets speech - Video - https://www.youtube.com/wat...

by Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2296 Views

Victory and Going to Top Gears - Itai Dzamara - Victory and Going to T...

by Itai Dzamara | 24 October 2014 | 2259 Views

I salute you Cde Grace! - Dear Editor, I salute you cde Grace!I would ...

by Denford Madenyika (Denny) | 24 October 2014 | 3358 Views

Man in court for stealing friend's salary - A 26-year-old man stole hi...

by Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2411 Views

What did Grace Mugabe say to the War Vets? Word for word speech

by Staff Reporter | 24 October 2014 | 4760 Views

Mphoko distanced himself from land wrangle - ZIMBABWE'S former ambassa...

by Mashudu Netsianda | 24 October 2014 | 1413 Views

Crunch Zanu-PF Politburo meeting on today - THE crunch Zanu-PF Politbu...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2498 Views

EU hints on scrapping of sanctions against Zimbabwe - New British Amba...

by Lloyd Gumbo | 24 October 2014 | 1677 Views

'Mujuru owns 10% of Daily News,' says Grace Mugabe

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3534 Views

Zanu-PF headed for a split - ZANU-PF could be on the verge of a split ...

by Elias Mambo | 24 October 2014 | 4323 Views

Zanu-PF problems now fierce and overwhelming, says Dabengwa - ZAPU lea...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 3159 Views

No more 'obscene salaries' as govt unveils new salary scale for counci...

by Staff reporter | 24 October 2014 | 2405 Views

Entertainment

Carl Joshua Ncube to star in game show - Comedian Carl Joshua Ncube wi...

by Staff reporter | 23 October 2014 | 764 Views

LadyBee Anondida - Official video

by Staff Reporter | 23 October 2014 | 1872 Views

Zim representative in the Big Brother Africa survives eviction - Zimba...

by Staff reporter | 20 October 2014 | 2792 Views

Grace Mugabe's political comedy takes ZTV hostage - For the past two w...

by Staff reporter | 20 October 2014 | 5185 Views

Oliver Mtukudzi to deliver lecture at Musica 2014 - Zimbabwe's interna...

by Staff reporter | 19 October 2014 | 1548 Views

Gezha maoko - Ladybee (Official Video)

by Staff Reporter | 19 October 2014 | 2695 Views

Matebeleland Music & Arts Festival - Sivala umnyaka ngengoma lapho sit...

by Staff Reporter | 17 October 2014 | 1791 Views

Obediah Matulana releases Christmas DVD - Bulawayo-based musician Obed...

by Staff reporter | 16 October 2014 | 2077 Views
iBlog

Positions To Make Female Orgasm Easier During Intercourse

some women are fortunate enough to be able to climax easily, and in almost any sexual position. the majority of women though, sometimes find it difficult to orgasm especially when they are with a partner. sometimes this difficulty is just a result ... Read More
adoniadennis 12 May 2014 ago

Protect Your Greatest Small Business Asset: Time

if your work week is way more than 40 hours, your smartphone is glued to your hand, and your to-do list is multiple pages of overdue tasks—you know how valuable every minute of your time is.your smartphone and tablet make doing business from anyw... Read More
Sergey 05 September 2014 ago