MDC-T MPs yesterday said Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart did a sterling job in the provision of textbooks to primary and secondary schools in the country and condemned a recent report by a Parliamentary Portfolio Committee which alleged the tender process had not been transparent.
The negative report on textbook tendering and distribution was presented on Tuesday by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture chaired by Gokwe MP, Dorothy Mangami.
But Mazowe Central MP Shepherd Mushonga defended the minister saying the country was in dire need of textbooks with a ratio of one book to 50 children, an anomaly Coltart had successfully addressed.
He said following the programme, funded by Unicef and European Union countries, the Education ministry had managed to reduce the ratio to one book per child in the country.
Mushonga argued that publishing houses fighting to win the book tender wanted to be favoured at the expense of struggling schoolchildren. Their prices were exorbitant.
“It was never the objective of the Education Transition Fund to promote publishing houses at the expense of children and they refused to reduce their profit margins as advised,” said Mushonga.
“The core objective of one pupil one textbook was achieved and what is worrying is that some of the MPs in the committee like Mwenezi East MP, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti had vested interests in the tender system as they own bookshops or publishing houses,” he said.
Zimbabwe Publishing House, Kingstons Holdings, Mambo Press and Longman Zimbabwe, contested for the tender to publish books which was won by Longman after prices and quality of books were considered.
MDC-T MP for Zaka Central, Harison Mudzuri said Coltart did his best to rescue the education system from total collapse.
He said the minister ought to be commended for positive results coming through at both
primary and secondary school levels.
Highfield West MP Simon Hove said all textbooks were delivered to schools and since no school had complained that they did not receive their share, what Coltart did was above board.