BY TATENDA SQUARE
TEACHERS have challenged government to accept responsibility over the poor performance of Grade 7 pupils in the 2020 Zimbabwe School Examinations Council results released early this month, accusing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration of trying to use sanctions as a scapegoat.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema on Tuesday blamed sanctions imposed on the country by Western countries, COVID-19 and lack of dedication to duty by teachers for the poor pass rate.
But Obert Masaraure , president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said teachers did all they could to make sure that pupils get good results considering that they were working under difficult conditions.
Masaraure said sanctions had nothing to do with the low pass rate. He said teachers were incapacitated, while the working conditions were also bad. He blamed government for failing to put up proper infrastructure in schools to improve pass rates.
“I salute teachers for their hard work to produce these results considering the circumstances they are working under. The government has a way of shifting the blame on sanctions when things get bad, it does not want to be held responsible,” Masaraure said.
Masaraure also acknowledged that COVID-19 also contributed a lot to the low pass rate as learners did not spend much of their time in the classroom but rather, learning online which most of pupils were unable to do.
Goodwill Taderera, secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, said: “The low pass rate was mainly contributed by the national lockdowns since pupils did not learn, especially those in rural areas where they could not afford smartphones, laptops and money for data and in other areas there was no internet connectivity.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said: “The failure rate must be blamed squarely on government that has failed to invest in quality public education.
“Whereas the Dakar framework of agreement calls for a budget for primary and secondary education of above 22% of the total budget, Zimbabwean budget is just at 12,7%. There is need for investment in quality public education than retention of political power.”
He said teachers’ poor salaries, infrastructural decay in schools and lack of equipment for online education during the COVID-19-induced school closures contributed to the horrible results.
“To, therefore, blame high failure rate on sanctions and lack of supervision by school heads for the high failure rate is just dishonesty of the greatest magnitude. Mathema lacks educational taxonomy, but we never expected him to sink so low.”
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