Urgently Address Teacher Shortages In Schools
27 March 2021
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Parliamentarians have urged Government to urgently address teacher shortages in schools with some learning institutions said to be having only three teachers.

The legislators said disadvantaged communities were bearing the Covid-19 brunt which is affecting access to education.

Schools opened on Monday for all classes and school authorities are expected to ensure social distancing is maintained to prevent the spread of the virus.

Speaking during question and answer in Parliament yesterday, Umzingwane legislator Levi Mayihlome said pupils in rural areas, especially those learning at satellite schools, were at a disadvantage.

“Children in satellite schools are only benefiting 30 percent of what other children in conventional schools are getting in terms of attendance by staff. You find that there are three teachers at a school but the grades go from Grade 1 to 7 – the teacher has to shuttle between classrooms to teach different children,” said Cde Mayihlome.

“At the end of the day, the child gets only 30 percent of the time because the teacher is running three classes. What is the Ministry doing to ensure equity in terms of attendance or attention by teachers to children in satellite schools?”

Norton legislator Mr Temba Mliswa said the issue of availing enough teachers for pupils was very important.

“I was in my constituency yesterday and visited a secondary school. Your indulgence is sought here – maybe a Ministerial Statement should be put together. The 30 minutes which is normally given to a class – children are split 35\35. The usual class has got 60; the teacher spends 15 minutes in this class, walks to the next one that is five minutes and then ten minutes instead of sharing,” said Mr Mliswa.

“The issue is not really about the teachers; it is about the Public Service Commission in terms of employing more teachers. It is not the fault of the Ministry of Education but it is the teachers who are needed. What is the PSC doing to ensure that there are more teachers as a result of splitting because of the Covid situation?”

In response to the questions, the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education

said Government was doing everything to ensure pupils access education even during these trying times.

“The issue of satellite schools is an issue basically of viability versus break even numbers in schools. You find satellite schools sometimes with about 13-15 pupils and those classes ranging from ECD to Grade 7. In some of the classes, there are two students or so – that is an issue of viability,” he said.

“On the breakeven side, we have a policy where the ratios – teacher provision versus the number of students per class and that is normally on average 1:35. Then you find that where a school has maybe 15 students, you would hardly have a teacher or half a teacher if that is possible, which is not possible,” said Dep Minister Moyo.

He said the Ministry has designed that in such schools, where there are composite classes and where minimum requirements are not met, there should be a minimum of three teachers so that those teachers can share the breadth and length of the grades.

“In secondary schools, the minimum then becomes five teachers for that kind of school. So, it is really a matter of issues to do with viability and also for Government to be able to pay all teachers. It will be very difficult to say where there is one student or two students; you have a teacher assigned to that particular class,” he added.

Deputy Minister Moyo also assured legislators that learners in rural areas failing to access e-learning will be catered for soon.

“The issue of access by rural students and communities is a problematic issue. However, Government is working on a number of measures, one of which is collaboration between our Ministry and that of ICT where this year we have earmarked 100 schools in the country for that connectivity especially to the disadvantaged communities. The other programme that we have also entered into at which I am pleased to say that we will be participating in a virtual inaugurative meeting tomorrow which we call a GIGA project which is meant to connect every school in selected countries and Zimbabwe is one of them,” he said.

“I cannot give a time line as to when that will happen. It is going to be realized but the process is beginning tomorrow where we shall be discussing that issue of connectivity in disadvantaged schools and Zimbabwe is one of the targeted countries.”

-State Media