Govt in schools shutdown U-turn

Source: Govt in schools shutdown U-turn – DailyNews Live

Jeffrey Muvundusi      2 June 2017

BULAWAYO – Government has made a U-turn on its plans to close 40 schools
in Matabeleland South, stating that the region actually needs 2 056 more
schools instead.

This comes as Primary and Secondary Education ministry secretary Sylvia
Utete-Masango recently torched a storm after announcing plans to shut 40
schools in the province, citing low pupil enrolment.

This attracted the ire of many education sector stakeholders, with teacher
organisations threatening to stage massive demos in protest to the move.

Following the outrage, Utete-Masango, accompanied by Education ministry
officials and teacher unions, has been touring Matabeleland South since
the beginning of the week in a bid to ascertain the true status of the
situation in the province.

“I am in Mat South now…and I have commissioned a new school,” Utete
Masango told journalists after officially opening Valukhalo Secondary
School (Valukhalo) in Empandeni in Plumtree on Wednesday.

Utete-Masango further noted that from her tour, it emerged that the
province had a shortfall of over 2 000 schools.

“That is the thrust of the ministry. I did indicate we still have a
deficit of schools in the region of 2 056, and we could say because of
this new school we can safely say the shortfall is now 2055, because this
school is a plus,” she said.

The permanent secretary even donated science laboratory furniture worth $8
100 to Valukhalo.

The school was launched in May 2013 and students were holding lessons
under trees.

After government announced plans to shut the schools, teachers warned they
would stage a crippling strike, if authorities went ahead.

Various teachers’ representatives told the Daily News that they had
already put in motion the process of mobilising their members, civic
groups and community leaders to confront the government over the school
closure debacle.

A fuming Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary general,
Raymond Majongwe, did not mince his words, saying “the response from
various groups is overwhelming because we are all agreed that we must
speak with one voice to pressure authorities”.

“Several CSOs (civil society organisations) and activists are willing to
join the communities that are being punished by government for being
located away from schools.

“The policy is that an examination centre can be established where six
people have registered…yet here we are talking about 100 or more pupils
who will be disadvantaged by the plans at some schools,” Majongwe argued.