Education that leaves no one behind

08 Apr, 2022 - 00:04 0 Views
Education that leaves no one behind The Manica Post Editor, Mrs Wendy Nyakurerwa-Matinde addresses learners at Chancellor Junior School in Mutare on Tuesday as part of the Zimpapers’ mentorship programme that seeks to hone the skills of aspiring writers in Manicaland schools

 

Moffat Mungazi
Post Reporter

THERE is no better way to describe Zimbabwe’s vision for its education system than the Tibetan proverb which propounds that: “A child without education is like a bird without wings.”

Cognisant of this, the country has over the years since gaining Independence from the British colonial rule in 1980 been studiously investing in the sector as it sought transformation that bears fruit.

With Zimbabwe turning 42 on April 18, it is prudent to celebrate the major milestones the country has scored to date and this year’s theme for the Uhuru Day commemorations — “Leaving no one and no place behind” — resonates well with the direction our education sector continues to take.

The Zimbabwean system has provided learners and students with a platform to acquire competitive primary, secondary and tertiary education.

It has also allowed them to develop critical thinking and empowered them with the requisite skills to ensure the country’s sustainable development.

Sections 75 and 81 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe reiterates every child’s right to education.

Firm foundation

The country’s education sector prepares learners to become socially and economically empowered citizens through provision of equitable, inclusive and quality education, the 2020 Education Sector Analysis (ESA) for Zimbabwe — prepared under the auspices of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) — postulates.

These are the wings that have seen our education system — buoyed by a staggeringly high adult literacy rate of around 90 percent — soar to lofty heights.

This is why Zimbabwe’s education system is held in high regard on the African continent.

All this emanates from the huge investments and sustained efforts made by Government since 1980.

For instance, the education sector in the pre-Independence era was skewed against the indigenous people owing, not only to its limited access and facilities, but also the fact that it was discriminatory.

To overcome such bottlenecks in acquiring the inalienable basic right of education, from 1980 onwards, Government made a deliberate policy to improve access to education, create equity as well as upgrade the content, methods and assessment in the sector.

As noted by the Education Secretary Report (1980-1987) quoted in the Nziramasanga Report (1999): “In 1979, there were 2 401 primary schools enrolling 81 958 learners learning in segregated schools, but 10 years later, primary schools had increased to 4 504, enrolling in excess of 2 274 178 learners. At secondary school level, there were 177 schools in 1979 with a learner population of 66 215. Ten years later, the secondary schools had increased to 1 502 with an enrolment of 695 882 learners.”

That is phenomenal growth by any standards.

The Nziramasanga Report was produced after the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training (CIET) that was set up in 1998 and was led by the late educationist, Professor Caiphas Nziramasanga.

It recommended free universal education as well as the need to co-opt learners with special educational needs alongside their peers in common school contexts.

As a result, a robust human resources base with high academic qualifications that are much sought after in the region and the world over has been produced.

The brain drain the country continues to suffer as its trained professionals leave for greener pastures is a testament to this.

 

Diamond FM News Bureau Chief, Ms Mercy Ngwebvu stresses a point to learners at St Dominic’s High School to help them sharpen their writing skills

Over the years, our education system has remained sturdy owing to elaborate planning and meticulous implementation of sound policies.

Undoubtedly, Zimbabwe’s education sector moulds and produces a skilled manpower that is highly competent.

Leaving no one, no place behind

To ensure that no one and no place is left behind in accessing quality and affordable education, Government moved to introduce the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM).

This has significantly contributed to pushing up the enrolment and completion rates among learners.

Previously marginalised areas are also now on board, with learners-classroom ratios improving at all levels.

With the provision of non-formal education being clearly spelt out in the Education Amendment Act, human capital development is guaranteed as the teacher-learner ratio has risen to the desired points.

A phased introduction of the competence-based curriculum is also being implemented with the overall objective of improving the quality of our education.

The adoption of Science subjects amongst students is also being encouraged to drive the country’s rapid industrialisation as envisaged by the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development.

This is catered for under one of the key pillars of the National Development Strategy (NDS1) as the country moves towards achieving an empowered and prosperous upper-middle income economy by 2030.

Under the priority area of human capital development and innovation, the Second Republic is reconfiguring education to 5.0 so as to promote specialist skills for industry, commerce and the public sector.

This is expected to increase innovation for industrialisation.

Overcoming obstacles

The fruitful outcomes of the Zimbabwean education system are a measure of how far it has come and how well-oiled it is.

However, the sector has not been spared from the debilitating effects of the illegal sanctions imposed on the country by the West.

With public expenditure on education plunging, some teachers abandoned the ship to look for better fortunes in neighbouring countries.

However, the sector has continued to stand the test of time with an admirably impressive performance that symbolises the country’s unflinching indefatigability in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges.

The advent of the global Covid-19 pandemic has also not made things any easier as it forced the indefinite closure of schools and altered the way of everyday learning in school.

To circumvent the setback, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in collaboration with UNICEF Zimbabwe launched the radio lessons programme in June 2020 at primary school level.

The arrangement showed that Government’s commitment to continue providing education to everyone.

Considering that our education system was built on a firm foundation, it has remained strong despite all these challenges.

 

And to make sure that underpriviledged learners do not drop out of school, they are being assisted with school fees and examinations fees.

Last year, Government used $2 billion in providing educational assistance to 1 163 738 such children and this year about 1,5 million are receiving support through a BEAM package that covers tuition fees, uniforms and stationery.

The New Dispensation is also moving towards bridging the gap between schools to ensure that the learners who are enrolled in public schools are offered quality education.

To sweeten that arrangement, basic education in public schools will be offered free of charge as Government moves to introduce that next year.

“We are experiencing many drop-outs from our education system. Government is very concerned about this negative development, which requires urgent solutions. Against the foregoing and starting next year, Government will push for a phased access to universal free education wholly funded by the State. We must make primary education free and universal next year in 2023,” President Mnangagwa said recently.

The President added that with technology now being the biggest single medium of instruction in today’s education, Government has begun accelerating transition from a system dependent on face-to-face learning to one where technology mediates the process.

Government is therefore putting in place mechanisms to equip primary school learners with Information Communication Technology gadgets to facilitate remote learning and high retention of learners with financial challenges in school.

Education is, indeed, one of the cornerstones of social and economic transformation.

 

Zimbabwe is leaving no one and no place behind as its education sector evolves.

 

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