GOVERNMENT is aiming to construct 300 new primary and secondary schools in Manicaland to alleviate the acute shortage of learning institutions across the country’s eastern border province, Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Advocate Misheck Mugadza has said.
Minister Mugadza said the move will enable the province to make significant contributions in the attainment of Vision 2030.
The acute shortage of schools in Manicaland has seen some learners walking long distances to and from school.
Speaking during the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) provincial advocacy meeting on devolution at Mutare Diocesan Centre recently, Minister Mugadza, who was represented by the Director of Economic Development in the Office of the Permanent Secretary for Manicaland Provincial Affairs, Mr Munyaradzi Rubaya, said the target of constructing 300 schools will be achieved through collaborative efforts with private partners and other stakeholders.
He said the construction of schools will be prioritised in resettlement areas.
“We do not want our children to walk long distances to school. This is why Government is aiming to construct 3 000 new schools nationally, and here in Manicaland, we are targeting about 300 schools.
“It is important to note that the construction of schools will be prioritised in resettlement areas where many people relocated, but there were no adequate amenities at the time of their relocation.
“It is also crucial that people are made aware of the fact that this not a Government task alone. It will be executed with all stakeholders and private players,” he said.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson, Mr Taungana Ndoro, said Government is targeting to build about 3 000 schools across the country in order to achieve universal access to primary education, access to inclusive, equitable and quality education.
Mr Ndoro said Government is working with development partners, private players, councils and churches to expand existing schools and construct new schools.
“Government is looking forward to constructing 3 000 schools across the country, and provincial statistics are not readily available. Government is not doing this alone, but through PPPs, development partners, churches, and councils to expand, refurbish and upgrade existing schools and build new schools in areas where there’s great need,” said Mr Ndoro.
Manicaland has 1 281 primary and secondary schools, most of which have a teacher/learner ratio above 1:60, against the recommended ratio of 1:35.
“We have a deficit of 2 800 schools in the country, and various partners are coming on board to play the ball, and we are hopeful that we will join forces to achieve those targets,” he said.
Manicaland needs more schools to ease the pressure on overcrowded learning institutions where a high number of urban learners are now turning to peri-urban schools after failing to secure places closer to home.
The teacher-learner ratio in most urban schools is about 1:60.
Mutare, Rusape and Chipinge are the hardest hit districts in the province, while Buhera is the only district with a relatively standard secondary-primary schools’ ratio of 1:3.
Rusape, which has a population of about 45 000 people, only has five primary and two high schools, thereby forcing many learners from the town to enrol at peri-urban schools like Sanzaguru, Chiundu, Tsindi and Mt Camel High Schools.
In Mutare, a lot of learners who failed to secure places in the city enrolled in Zimunya and Dora.
In Mutasa District, Ward 18 has one secondary school.
Some new suburbs across the province have no schools.
The province also has 207 satellite schools that require massive upgrading for them to be registered and attract quality teachers.
The ZCHOD provincial advocacy meeting sought to promote citizen participation in Government’s devolution processes.
It was hosted in conjunction with partners that include the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference which is under the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches and Zionists in Africa, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe.