500K children out of school: UN

However, Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said the country’s poor education was a result of the economic crisis.

ABOUT half-a-million Zimbabwean children of school-going age are staying at home, a United Nations agency has said, amid calls for the government to address challenges that are keeping them out of class.

Experts say the harsh economic environment makes education a luxury despite efforts to make education compulsory.

“Only six children out of 10 aged three to five are enrolled in pre-primary education, and an estimated half a million children of primary and lower secondary school age are out-of-school, and this data reminds us to continue to work together under the leadership of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to address the challenges that keep children out of school,” Unicef country representative Tajudeen Oyewale said in a statement to commemorate the International Day of Education.

The UN General Assembly proclaimed January 24 as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.This year’s commemorations were held under the theme, Learning for Lasting Peace.

Unicef has made strides in advancing children’s rights to education in Zimbabwe with the government implementing various policies to promote inclusive education across the country, such as the Education Amendment Act, the Children’s Act and the Disability Act.

However, Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said the country’s poor education was a result of the economic crisis.

“We are facing a lot of challenges as we speak and we don’t have adequate schools while the government would like to cater for the highly marginalised particularly through the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) fund, it has not been able to pay BEAM for quite some time throughout 2023 and up to now,” he said.

Taderera said the sector was also being affected by inadequate motivation for teachers.“As we speak, teachers are crying foul because they’re getting something that doesn’t cover their day-to-day living needs,” he said.

In a statement to commemorate the day, the Education Development Trust (EDT) said it is committed to working with the government to strengthen the capacity of 87 934 primary and secondary school educators in 42 districts located in eight rural provinces of Zimbabwe in line with the Education Sector Strategic Plan 2021-2025.

EDT is implementing the UK-funded Teacher Professional Development component of the Teacher Effectiveness and Equitable Access for All Children (TEACH) programme in partnership with the government.

“This component aims to improve the quality of teaching through building the capacity of schoolteachers on improved pedagogy (including more than 82 000 teachers and over 5 000 school heads).

“Over 80% of school leaders targeted by the programme have received training on school leadership for learning. In addition, over 300 school inspectors have been trained in assessment and inspection based on reforms,” the organisation said.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro emphasised the importance of collaboration for better learning outcomes for every child.“When we partnered Education Development Trust Zimbabwe in 2021, more so after the COVID-19 pandemic, we started talking about blended education services provision,” he said.

EDT team leader Faith Nkala underscored the importance of laying the right educational foundation at an early age.“The Zimbabwe Early Learning Assessment (Zela) 2022 cycle findings show that a quarter of infant learners transition into junior level without the basic reading and computation competencies.

“The Zela results allow for targeted support to the 25% of the learners who need it most through programmes like TEACH, focusing on improved delivery of foundational literacy and numeracy,” Nkala said.

The Development Aid from People to People (DAPP) Zimbabwe also spoke during the commemorations saying this year’s theme resonated with its education thrust placing emphasis on education as an important tool to transforms lives and expose people to new possibilities.

“Our education programme encompasses education for the marginalised youth and those living in difficult circumstances; empowerment of girls, women and persons with disabilities through vocational training programmes including both formal and short skills training courses.”

Through the Ponesai Vanhu Technical College, the DAPP empowers young people from disadvantaged communities with skills for promoting socio-economic development; and sustainable societies. 

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