Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart on Wednesday told Parliament government would soon roll out 6 711 462 secondary school textbooks worth $8 322 505 under its Educational Trust Fund.
Coltart said the programme was aimed at ensuring each student had unfettered access to study material and avoid sharing of textbooks.
“The tender was awarded to College Press which will do 42% of the textbooks, Longman 34% and Zimbabwe Publishing House (ZPH) 24% of the textbooks,” said Coltart.
“These will be distributed to a total of 2 345 secondary schools throughout the country and the textbooks are currently in the warehouse and the distribution process will start in a few days, starting with the most remote areas due to the rainy season which might make it difficult to access the places.”
Recently, primary schools got textbooks published by Longmans, courtesy of Unicef. While MPs from the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture said the textbooks compromised the quality of education, Coltart argued the education system in Zimbabwe had been in dire straits and the books had gone a long way in alleviating the desperate situation.
Chitungwiza North MP Fidelis Mhashu alleged the primary school textbooks by Longmans, particularly Mathematics and Shona (Pindukai) were mediocre or sub-standard.
“These are some of the worst books in the country, but they are already in circulation,” said Mhashu.
Magwegwe MP Felix Magalela Sibanda alleged the committee had been ignored in making decisions on the procurement of textbooks and said this might compromise on quality.
However, Coltart said each textbook had been approved by the Curriculum Development Unit which fell under his ministry.
“Is it a greater mistake to provide children with Longmans textbooks or not have textbooks at all?” queried Coltart.
“The prices by other publishers were so high that one textbook was $5. Due to Longmans textbooks, Grade 7 results have picked up and I think it is directly related to the provision of these textbooks,” he said.
Coltart said Zimbabwe now had a pupil-book ration of 1:1, a remarkable achievement compared to the Sadc region’s ratio of 1:4.