PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora yesterday came under fire in Parliament for the high failure rate and inconsistent education policy announcements.
The debate on the education sector was introduced in the House of Assembly by Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya (MDC-T) and supported by MPs across the political divide. The MPs said Dokora, who was not present during the debate, should remove the ban on extra lessons and call for an all-stakeholders’ conference to discuss the quagmire in the education sector.
Chikwinya said he was shocked by the lack of co-operation from officials in the Education ministry who failed to provide him information he had requested to use during debate on his motion in Parliament.
“I want to register my concern that while preparing for this motion, I had to seek for facts from the relevant ministry, but there was lack of co-operation from the officials. I do not know if they are afraid to give us factual information because they continue to refer us to the minister or the schools themselves,” Chikwinya said.
“I implore Dokora to whip his officials to provide MPs with data that they need because our education sector has been deteriorating.”
He said Zimbabwe had been achieving high pass rates through the culture of extra lessons, adding Dokora should consult widely with a view of re-aligning education policies to ensure the ban on extra lessons, entrance tests for Form 1 and incentives for teachers was lifted.
Seconder of the motion Mabvuku Tafara MP James Maridadi (MDC-T) challenged all ministers to use public education and health facilities if they were good enough, instead of taking their own children to private schools and institutions outside the country.
“The minister wrote a circular saying sports should be done during weekends and those circulars affect public schools and not private schools. If ministers feel their children cannot go to public schools and that they cannot be treated at Parirenyatwa, then it means those schools and hospitals are also not good for the Zimbabwean public,” Maridadi said.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba (Zanu PF) implored other legislators to support the motion and desist from turning it into a political debate saying education affected everyone despite their political affiliation.
“The minister should visit rural schools so that he sees how children are learning there. Our ministers should perform and should not be ministers by name.”
Chinotimba fumed over the issue of the Mashonaland Central school which was penalised for rewarding an excelling teacher with a goat.
Goodluck Kwaramba (MP Proportional Representation Zanu PF) suggested that there should not be third term holidays for Grade Seven pupils to ensure they were well prepared for exams.
Musikavanhu MP Prosper Mutseyami (MDC-T) said Dokora was not sensitive to problems affecting schoolchildren and parents because he was an appointed minister who did not represent any constituency.