Children learning in barns, animal shelter

Weston Makupe teaches a class while pupils sit on clay molded benches at Buno Primary school a sight which is common in all the four classrooms.

CHILDREN in resettlement areas are still learning under deplorable conditions, including tobacco barns and animal shelters, Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema confirmed to Parliament. The revelation drew condemnation from legislators who said the government was not serious about education.

BY VENERANDA LANGA

In a ministerial statement issued recently on his behalf in the National Assembly by Youth, Sports and Arts minister Kirsty Coventry, Mathema said poor infrastructure was one of the reasons that led to the 0% Grade 7 pass rate at some schools in Matabeleland North and South provinces.

“Teaching and learning space in some schools is still grossly inadequate. For example, some schools are still using tobacco barns and grass-thatched classrooms, animal handling facilities and other schools are operating without specialist rooms like design and technology laboratories or workshops,” Mathema said.

“More resources will also be required for the construction of teachers’ accommodation and continuous training of teachers in the competence-based curriculum.”

MPs were riled by the issue of children learning in barns and animal handling facilities.

Lindiwe Maphosa (MDC Alliance Proportional Representative MP) said it was a shame that 20 years after independence, there were children still learning in barns.

“My observation is that most of these schools with a 0% pass rate are from Matabeleland South and North provinces and that these are resettlement areas where the land reform programme happened during the 2000 era,” Maphosa said.

“There are also situations, where four classes share the same room and a teacher has to teach with four classes learning simultaneously. We need Mathema to clarify why we still have situations like that in our country 20 years after independence?”

Maphosa said this did not show that the country was serious with education and ensuring that schoolchildren from disadvantaged families have adequate learning infrastructure.
Gokwe Chireya MP Torerayi Moyo (Zanu PF) said when Mathema appears before Parliament as it resumes sitting in February, he must explain the relationship between the 0% pass rate and the poor infrastructure, where pupils learn in barns or animal shelter.

In 2017, just like in 2018, a total of 29 schools in Matabeleland North province were recorded as having a 0% Grade 7 pass rate.

In 2019, 32 schools were recorded as having attained a 0% pass rate in Matabeleland. Out of those 15 were from Matabeleland North, 10 from Matabeleland South, and seven schools from Bulawayo.

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