STAKEHOLDERS in the education sector are appealing to the Government to invest in education in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some of the expected initiatives include the recruitment of more teachers and construction of more blocks in schools to ensure learners maintain social distancing to avoid the spread of Covid-19 among themselves.
Schools are closed to curb the spread of Covid-19, which has ravaged the whole world.
There is a bloated teacher-learner ratio in some schools as some classes now have an average of 60 learners instead of the recommended 35.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) chief executive Dr Sifiso Ndlovu urged the Government to ensure funding for education was increased during and after the pandemic.
“The increase in education funding will ease overcrowding in schools,” said Dr Ndlovu.
“Schools have been operating without the required staff compliments, and in some cases the teachers’ workload was increased.”
Mr Ndlovu said the most undesirable effect of all this had been the huge class sizes, which resulted in overcrowded classrooms.
On average, Dr Ndlovu said most public schools were operating with a ratio of one teacher to 60 learners.
“Ideal situations would require that teacher to pupil ratios be adjusted to 1:35 in primary schools, whereas in secondary schools that ratio would have to be adjusted to one teacher for 20 learners,” he said. “Consequently, adjusting to these levels will require that Government, which is the major guarantor of quality public education for all, must as a matter of urgency employ more qualified teachers to improve staffing levels, especially in the public schools.”
There are more than 100 000 qualified teachers operating in Zimbabwe.
Dr Ndlovu said at least 4,5 million learners were found in more than 900 primary and secondary schools countrywide.
Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ) secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe echoed similar sentiments.
“Social distancing should be emphasised, he said. No cost should be spared in making sure that learners exercise real social distancing.
“The Government should employ more teachers, reduce classes to not more than 20 pupils per classroom.”