Zimbabwe’s education sector in crisis
According to a new report, the shocking dropout rate was 43 percent higher than the previous year.
At secondary level 2,289 dropped out of school because of school fees
The revelations come against a backdrop of warning by teacher unions of a possible collapse in education standards.
In its report the Education ministry cited lack of mandatory tuition as the prime cause for massive dropouts.
The Education Management System report says about 52 per cent of secondary school drop-outs were females.
At primary level about 40 per cent of all school pupils who failed to proceed with their education were also females.
“At secondary level 2,289 dropped out of school because of school fees,” the report says.
“At primary level, 2 784 dropped out because of school fees consisting of 1 646 males and 1 138 females.”
The report said the government’s Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), meant to assist children from poor families with school fees, is failing to cope with the increasing demand.
At least 165,000 pupils failed to have their fees paid through BEAM due to cheques being dishonoured and because of s bureaucratic bungling.
The government employs about 20,000 unqualified teachers, nearly a fifth of the full teaching establishment in primary and secondary schools.
The Southern African country has over the years prided itself for having one of Africa’s highest literacy rates, at 91 percent.
While Zimbabwe had made tremendous progress in education since 1980, there are concerns standards are collapsing and institutions are now producing generations of mediocrity.
Last year several educationists requested a meeting with President Robert Mugabe to discuss the state of the education sector, which they say has continued to slide, affecting millions of children.
The Education ministry has struggled to fill the staffing gap after thousands of teachers left the country, along with, possibly, a million other Zimbabweans to escape the economic collapse which peaked in 2008.
The government has recruited unqualified teachers to fill the gap and these now number top 20,000, according to data released by the education ministry.