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Schools urged to commercialise, contribute to GDP

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BY PRAISEMORE SITHOLE

PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema has urged schools to commercialise their projects so that they can contribute to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Mathema made the remarks yesterday during a tour of the United Congregassional Church of Southern Africa-run Tennyson Hlabangana High School in Bulawayo, which is undertaking several income-generating projects.

“Government has approved the strategy for schools to engage in commercial ventures for sustainable development and lifelong learning as part of its efforts to implement a transformative agenda that is geared at promoting sustainable economic development and the betterment of the lives of the people of Zimbabwe,” Mathema said.

“Given the number of schools and students in the primary and secondary education sector, the potential to contribute to the country’s GDP is significant. The objective is to create value while advancing the educational goals if the commercial ventures are effectively and efficiently executed,”  said, adding that these projects would expose schoolchildren to the world of work at the same time getting an opportunity to put into practice what they would have learnt.

“The commercial ventures in schools will bring the ‘shop floor’ to the school. Pupils can now experience some areas of work in the comfort of their own schools. However, I would like to emphasise that pupils should not be used as sources of cheap labour,” he said.

Mathema said viable commercial ventures should have full-time managers and employees to support learners with the technical skills they need during practical lessons.

The minister said in the course of time, they expect that school business ventures would be able to produce quality goods, making schools cost-effective providers of quality education.

“The cost of education at a school successfully undertaking commercial activities should reduce significantly. Activities like school feeding, uniforms, school furniture and culinary production are areas where schools have significant expertise already,” the minister added.

Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister Judith Ncube said the move to promote industrialisation and commercialisation in schools would improve the capability and behaviour of pupils.

“As government, we will continue supporting our schools in this concept of running businesses as a way of sustaining their existence. We have witnessed that projects are a solution at this school. This is a great way of starting a business,” Ncube said.

Tennyson Hlabangana has several incoming-generating projects such as horticulture and animal husbandry, among others.

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