BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA
MEMBERS of Parliament have revealed that several primary schools are operating with only a single teacher covering all grades in some instances, making it difficult for examination classes to prepare adequately.
The MPs grilled Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Edgar Moyo on why government allowed public examinations to go ahead when it was obvious pupils will not be prepared.
Students have missed learning for the better part of last year and this year due to the COVID-19-induced lockdown, but the government has insisted that examinations would be held before year-end.
On Wednesday, during question and answer session, Rushinga MP Tendai Nyabani (Zanu PF) said it was worrying that despite a lot of catching-up needed for students to adequately prepare for examinations, some schools were operating with a single teacher, taking all classes from Grade One to Seven.
He said most schools in Mbire, Rushinga and Muzarabani in Mashonaland Central province as well as Binga, Matabeleland North province only had one teacher stationed at a school for all grades, a situation described as untenable.
“In areas like Mbire, Rushinga, Muzarabani and Binga, there is only one teacher teaching Grades 1 to 7. How are these children going to write examinations like the rest of the children doing online lessons?” Nyabani asked.
Moyo conceded that some schools mainly in rural areas have a crisis of teaching personnel, but said a plan was being made to ensure affected students catch up before examinations.
“The matter has been brought to our offices and we are dealing with it. The situation is not universal in all schools. Yes, there are schools which are in that kind of situation, but there are others which are well-resourced in terms of human resources,” Moyo
“Yes, there are other schools in remote areas that are disadvantaged in terms of human resources, but there are others that are well-resourced.”
“What really determines that usually is the attractiveness and the provision of amenities and accommodation in those areas, we are specifically attending to that, and we hope that our human resources deployment strategy is going to address some of those issues,” he said.
On lack of adequate preparation for examination classes, Moyo said the government would come up with strategies to make sure that pupils catch up.
“In so far as the point that children have lost time, we are employing catch-up strategies to ensure that the children do catch up and one of them is through blended learning where we are using different learning and teaching platforms,” Moyo said.
Moyo said on examination dates, Grade Seven students would start at the end of November, overlapping into 2022 for the Ordinary and Advanced Levels examinations.
“We are merely extending it to all the other subjects and the idea is not to punish children by examining them and looking for what they do not know, but taking into account their performances during the course of the learning period so that we do not sacrifice.”
“We have also distributed some radios where you have a port for flash disk which have been loaded with materials that can be used for children to catch up while they are out there,” Moyo added.