Govt urged to address crisis in education sector

Uganda schools reopen Pic: BBC

STAKEHOLDERS in the education sector have called on government to address the multi-pronged crisis in the sector amid reports that 1,5 million learners have dropped out of school due to poverty and the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown.

The call came as the world yesterday commemorated International Day of Education.

The United Nations set aside January 24 as the International Day of Education. This year, it was commemorated under the theme Changing Course, Transforming Education to strengthen and welcome the revival of education in a gap hugely felt due to COVID-19.

Former Primary and Secondary Education minister David Coltart said the commemorations came at a time when the country’s education sector was facing its worst crisis.

“The children are facing a complete catastrophe and the education system is underfunded, while the country’s teachers are disrespected. The government should work more to improve the sector by allocating it more funds,” he said.

“It should also make the profession attractive to younger people by increasing teachers’ wages and respecting them. The government should allow the spirit of dialogue between them and the teachers unions in order to reach consensus. The teachers should be encouraged, not threatened, and their teaching conditions must be improved in order to motivate them to be at their best.”

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union in Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said his organisation had launched the Save our Education campaign to push for revival of the education sector.

“We are calling for a fully-funded basic education system as between seven million and nine million people in the country live in extreme poverty and cannot be expected to fully afford paying school fees and to buy learning materials,” he said.

“In Bulawayo province alone, 60% of learners have dropped out of school due to this issue. In Zimbabwe, 1,5 million children are out of school, while 12% don’t complete primary education, and 27% don’t complete O Level and 87% don’t finish A Level.”

In 2020, a Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency report said 59,1% of the schoolgoing population dropped out of school in Bulawayo, 55,4% in Mashonaland West, 47,2% in Manicaland, 48,2% in Masvingo, 35,3% in Mashonaland West, 36,4% in Mashonaland Central, and 40,5% in the Midlands.

Masaraure appealed to government to provide education recovery grants to schools to benefit underprivileged pupils.

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