Government has distributed 13 million textbooks to schools around the country, a Cabinet minister has said.
This figure has surpassed earlier projections of nine million textbooks needed for over 5 000 primary schools countrywide.
Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart said by December 20 they had distributed textbooks to 5 300 schools countrywide, although there were some sticking problems, which he hoped would be ironed out soon.
“By close of business on December 20, 13 million textbooks had been dispatched to around
5 300 schools. Due to a significant number of schools not having been on the original distribution lists and rising enrolments, 93% of schools will be covered by the time the trucks reach their destinations,” he said.
Through the Education Transition Fund (ETF), the ministry printed textbooks for primary schools in a move meant to improve the pupil-to-textbook ratio and restore basic education for all to Zimbabweans.
With the help of international partners, through the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), Zimbabwe secured $30 million for the production of primary school textbooks.
Coltart said the ETF received substantial financial support from the European Commission, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The minister said, as a result of unforeseen challenges, some schools would not receive enough textbooks.
“Inevitably there will also be some schools which will not receive enough books and we know of shortages already in certain subjects and grades.
“Unicef and the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture are currently negotiating to procure the mop-up and buffer stocks with (publishers) Longmans and will be able to complete the job early next year while still remaining well under budget for textbooks,” he said.
Coltart said his ministry hoped to complete the book distribution exercise by the first term next year, and would, at the same time, start printing secondary schools books.
“As I have recently advised, we have secured funding for the secondary school textbook programme which will be rolled out early in the New Year. We hope that these textbooks will be delivered to secondary schools countrywide during the second term of 2011,” he said.
The minister said government had resolved to publish textbooks for secondary schools through the ETF.
“This will initially involve the purchase of textbooks in five subjects with delivery anticipated by mid-2011. There has been a delay in this exercise caused by insufficient funds which have however now been secured,” he said.
The primary school textbooks target core subjects which are Mathematics, English, Shona and Ndebele as well as Environmental Science.
The ETF programme is a multi-donor funding mechanism designed to mobilise resources for the education sector and ensure equitable access to quality education.
The fund was set up to respond to acute shortages of teaching and learning materials, textbooks and supplies in schools where most were operating on a 10:1 pupils to textbook ratio.
Once the pride of the Southern African region, and the symbol of dignity and joy among many nationals, the Zimbabwean education system has been affected by the economic decline of the past 10 years.
The next phase of the ETF will focus on expanding support to the secondary schools, providing teachers’ guides and textbooks for marginalised indigenous languages including Venda, Shangani, Tonga and Nambya and also the development of textbooks in Braille.
It will also focus on curriculum revision, improving quality of education and educational outcomes and supporting the implementation of the Ministry of Education’s new strategic plan.