Breaking News

Zimbabwe's education sector on the road to recovery

by Staff reporter
24 January 2013 | 4353 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

Does Prophet Magaya's anointing oil work?

Yes
19.05%
No
71.43%
Spiritual matters
9.52%
21

Comments

News Updates

Email:

Latest News

Grace furious with Mugabe over alleged 'lover' Muchinguri - A whistle-...

by Staff Reporter | 30 January 2015 | 65 Views

Namibia drags feet on Zimbabwe qualifications - TWENTY-EIGHT Namibian ...

by Theresia Tjihenuna | 30 January 2015 | 113 Views

Mutasa on a mission to 'cleanse' Zanu-PF - Didymus Mutasa, the embattl...

by Ray Ndlovu I M&G | 30 January 2015 | 168 Views

'Friends yes, imperialists no more,' says Mugabe - President Robert Mu...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 316 Views

BREAKING NEWS: Mugabe unanimously elected to lead Africa - President ...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 2802 Views

Man bites wife's finger after being refused access to her phone - A ...

by Staff Reporter | 30 January 2015 | 838 Views

Mphoko out of touch with reality - FEARS that Vice-President Phelekeze...

by Stewart Chabwinja | 30 January 2015 | 3497 Views

ZAPU to reconfigure the Youth Front - "We are revisiting our revolutio...

by Thulani Nkala | 30 January 2015 | 1234 Views

Mafikizolo and Zahara Zimbabwe bound - Entertainment Reporter After a ...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1046 Views

Woman stabs hubby over WhatsApp message - A 22-year-old Barbourfields ...

by Thandeka Moyo | 30 January 2015 | 2772 Views

Bulawayo to go ahead with prepaid water meter installations - BULAWAYO...

by Loveness Bepete | 30 January 2015 | 1101 Views

Judgment day for cheating wife killer - A man assaulted his "adulterou...

by Mashudu Netsianda | 30 January 2015 | 1794 Views

Spirited attempts to scupper Mugabe's ascension to AU Presidency - ZIM...

by Caesar Zvayi | 30 January 2015 | 1725 Views

Man rapes niece, pretends to be possessed with monkey demon - A 23-YE...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1864 Views

'Mutasa threat to Zanu-PF'

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 3527 Views

MDC-T by-election boycott ignored by other political parties

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1351 Views

MDC-T threatens action over Kereke

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1572 Views

'I'm not scared,' says Mutasa

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 3038 Views

Mphoko blows +$18,000 on hotel accommodation

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 3388 Views

Python eater jailed 9 years

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 2099 Views

Cop-bashing apostolic sect member denied bail

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 673 Views

Teachers' union seeks corporal punishment reinstatement - Progressive ...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 872 Views

'Zimbabwe producing half-baked graduates' - Most of the thousands of s...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1745 Views

Chidhakwa, Defence ministry in bitter tussle - MINES minister Walter ...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1600 Views

Cabinet ministers bleeding Zesa ousted - CABINET ministers, senior ci...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 2105 Views

America ready to assist Zimbabwe - America is waiting for a signal fro...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 2071 Views

Acting President Mnangagwa bemoans road carnage - ACTING President Em...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1331 Views

Tsvangirai's MDC-T seeks to bar by-elections - The main opposition MDC...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 1033 Views

Entertainment

Nama awards nominees - Full list - A lot has been said about the Natio...

by Staff reporter | 30 January 2015 | 62 Views

Munya Mataruse Joins Tuku on US Tour - Upcoming Pakare Paye Arts Centr...

by Entertainment Reporter | 30 January 2015 | 721 Views

Mugabe, Mujuru at Harare Gallery

by A.A.V. Amasi | 28 January 2015 | 5364 Views

Prof Jonathan Moyo says 'Zimbabwe to meet digitisation deadline in Jun...

by Farirai Machivenyika | 27 January 2015 | 2233 Views

DJ stabbed by lover - A MATSHOBANE suburb disk jockey (29) got more t...

by Staff reporter | 27 January 2015 | 4900 Views

Bulawayo movie Qiniso out in February - THE much anticipated movie, Qi...

by Showbiz Reporter | 26 January 2015 | 2286 Views

Where is omasiganda music now?

by Fred Zindi | 26 January 2015 | 2403 Views

Ringo billed for pre-Valentines Bash in Bulawayo

by Bongani Ndlovu | 26 January 2015 | 3668 Views
iBlog

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

The Zero-day Vulnerability Cve-2014-4114 Impacting All Versions Of Microsoft Windows

new microsoft windows zero-day vulnerability - cve-2014-4114on tuesday, october 14, 2014, isight partners - in close collaboration with microsoft - announced the discovery of a zero-day vulnerability impacting all supported versions of microsoft win... Read More
SecNews 16 October 2014 ago