Government has said there are adequate Form One places to absorb all pupils that wrote the Grade Seven public examinations this year.
The announcement comes as parents and guardians have started scrambling for Form One places for their children ahead of the 2023 Term One.
Parents and guardians seeking boarding school places are applying online while parents that intend to enrol their children as day scholars are physically visiting the schools.
The Government is encouraging parents to ensure day scholars are enrolled at schools close to their residential areas.
In Bulawayo, several parents and guardians have started flocking to schools which are perceived to be good.
A Chronicle news crew yesterday visited selected schools in Bulawayo and observed hundreds of parents and guardians queuing to secure Form One places for their children.
At Mpopoma High School, parents and guardians formed long queues with the hope of getting their children enrolled for Form One.
Schools such as Sizane High School had already placed a notice at the entrance notifying parents that they were no longer accepting new applicants.
Government has however assured parents that there are adequate places for all pupils intending to proceed to Form One next year.
Primary and Secondary Education Ministry communication and advocacy director Mr Taungana Ndoro said there is no need for parents and guardians to panic as there are adequate places for Form One.
“We don’t have a crisis in terms of Form One places. We have more than enough schools for Form One places, particularly day schools. No learner will fail to get a Form One place for 2023,” he said.
Mr Ndoro said the only challenge was boarding places which were limited.
He said parents and guardians were actually creating an artificial shortage of Form One places because they were limiting themselves to schools perceived to be good.
He said parents were targeting certain schools said to be producing good results thereby creating an impression that places have run out. “For instance, you might have a parent living in Nketa suburb but wants his or her child enrolled at a school in Barham Green suburb which is said to be good,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said parents should instead assist in developing their local schools so that they produce the good results they want.
“The onus is on the parents to improve the standards of local schools so that at the end of the day the schools offer quality education,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said the country does not have enough boarding schools making it increasingly difficult to absorb all the pupils seeking places.
“Pupils with six to nine units do not struggle to get enrolled even at boarding schools but those with lower grades find it difficult as priority is given to those with good grades,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said is is important for parents and guardians to be involved in the educational progression of their children from Early Childhood Development level until they reach High school.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu concurred with Mr Ndoro, saying there is no shortage of Form One places but parents were limiting themselves to particular schools.
He said there is a need to improve the quality of some public schools so that they can compete with the so-called better schools.
“Private schools at the moment are offering better facilities, a variety of extracurricular and a better education resulting in most parents preferring them to public schools. If public schools were as good as private schools we wouldn’t be witnessing this scramble for places,” said Dr Ndlovu.
There was commotion at Mpopoma High School yesterday as parents jostled to have their children enrolled.
A parent, Mr Freddy Ndlovu from Mpopoma suburb, said Mpopoma High School was his first choice for his son.
He said his child obtained 10 units but the school authorities told him that they have closed the enrolment.
“I will be really disappointed if he fails to get a place at this school because this is one of the best schools in my zone.
We have been told to wait outside the gate so that in the event that some applicants fail to pay the required $35 000 deposit, we could then be considered,” said Mr Ndlovu.
The news crew observed that some of the parents who had secured places for their children were already paying the required fees.
Parents who had thronged church-run schools such as Sizane High School in Pelandaba suburb and St Columbus in Makokoba suburb were left disappointed after they were told that the schools had closed the enrolment
Mr Senzo Moyo from Mzilikazi suburb who was at St Columbus High School said despite his child having obtained nine units, he was turned away.
“My son got nine points so l thought getting a place here was not going to be problem. I am really disappointed because they are saying there are full. In this zone, this is the only good school I prefer,” he said.
At Sizane High School, authorities had placed a notice at the front gate notifying parents that they had closed the enrolment.
Mrs Siphosihle Ngulube of Pumula South said: “I might be forced to wait until the first week of January to try again in the event some pupils do not come.”