MDC legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (proportional representation) yesterday stirred a heated debate in the National Assembly when she claimed that there was a deliberate government policy to marginalise children from the Matabeleland region by deploying Shona-speaking teachers at their schools.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Misihairabwi-Mushonga made the remarks while introducing her motion calling on government to introduce a quota system at tertiary institutions to ensure students from the region where the institution was situated got first preference.
“What is happening is that when you look at the state of institutions of higher learning in the Matabeleland region, very few of the students come from Matabeleland. And unless you address that particular issue, fair representation and distribution of resources will always be a problem,” she said. “What is sad is that the school system starts from Grade 1 to 7, but why is it that we have a majority of Shona-speaking teachers being deployed in Matabeleland? It is because they are supposed to destroy the foundation of that child’s learning.”
The opposition legislator said she had researched on the pattern of pass rates before introducing her motion and discovered a disturbing trend where Matabeleland North and South were always at the bottom and had fewer science laboratories when compared to other provinces.
She said of the 41 schools in Gwanda, only 14 had science laboratories that were inadequately equipped.
“It means right from the beginning, these children are unable to proceed and go to university or even get good jobs. We need government to come up with a quota system that actually says 60% to 70% places at institutions of higher learning should be reserved for children who reside in that particular region. We also need to investigate why children in Matabeleland are failing and craft a policy that children must be taught in their mother tongue.”
Seconder of the motion, Jasmine Toffa (MDC proportional representation), said: “Most children in Matabeleland are sitting at home because their places at institutions of higher learning have been taken by children from other regions,” Toffa said.
Although some Zanu PF MPs interjected fiercely saying the two MDC legislators had introduced a tribalistic motion, Bubi MP Clifford Sibanda (Zanu PF) defended the motion, saying it was premised on constitutional provisions of equality in allocation of resources to different regions.
Binga North MP Prince Dubeko Sibanda (MDC-T) said it was unfair for one region to enjoy 90% of resources and development, while other regions remained underdeveloped.