GOVERNMENT has appealed to aid agencies to assist with the construction of new schools, refurbish and furnish existing ones to improve the learning environment.
By NQOBANI NDLOVU/ STEPHEN CHADENGA
Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Paul Mavhima admitted the government does not have the capacity to meet infrastructure needs of existing schools to ensure quality education.
Mavhima made the plea yesterday at a handover of four classroom blocks to Tshayile Primary School in Bubi district, Matabeleland North, by Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe Yoshi Tendai Hiraishi.
Pupils at the school had, for the past 10 years been taking lessons in pole-and-dagga structures.
The structures at the satellite school were built by villagers in 2005 with pupils forced to have joint lessons for Grade Ones to Grade 3, Grade 4 and 5 and Grade 6 and 7, as there was no proper classroom block.
Grade Seven pupils were writing their final year examinations at neighbouring schools with better infrastructure.
The Japanese embassy spent $102 436 on the new classroom block with a local non-governmental organisation, Rural Women and Children Legal Resources Trust, co-ordinating the construction programme.
“The ministry faces great challenges in meeting the infrastructure needs of schools to enhance quality education in our country. Most of our existing schools lack basic facilities such as laboratories, classrooms blocks and teachers’ quarters.
“We also need to build 2 000 schools, but this is a feat that government cannot achieve on its own. It is in this light that the ministry is creating an environment for partnerships. We need joint ventures to achieve this feat,” Mavhima said.
He revealed his ministry was phasing out satellite schools, but financial resources were a challenge, hence, government was banking on joint ventures to ensure new schools are built.
“We are systematically phasing out satellite schools. We cannot continue having satellite schools,” he said, before asking villagers to also construct houses for teachers for the school to be registered by the ministry.
Speaking at the same ceremony, the Japanese envoy said: “Such an unacceptable learning environment had not only caused a very high rate of dropouts and transfers, but also negatively affected their results.”
Meanwhile, Gweru businesswoman, Smelly Dube has donated 1 000 uniforms to underprivileged pupils at three primary schools in the city.
Dube, who is chief executive officer of River Valley Properties, said she decided to donate after realising that many pupils were dropping out of school because of poverty.
“As River Valley, we decided to donate 1 000 uniforms to Muwunga, St Michael’s and Sandara primary schools to assist the less privileged children in our society meet educational needs.”