No substantive heads for Mat schools

Source: No substantive heads for Mat schools – Sunday News July 24, 2016

Vusumuzi Dube and Tinomuda Chakanyuka Sunday News Reporters
ALMOST half of primary schools in Matabeleland North and South provinces have been operating without substantive school heads for the past five years, against a background of the two provinces perennially posting the worst Grade Seven results countrywide.

It has also been established that the two provinces are facing a critical shortage of Maths and Science teachers. According to a circular from the Civil Service Commission Secretary Mrs Pretty Sunguro, out of the 620 primary schools in Matabeleland North, 359 have substantive school heads, which means 261 of the schools, are being run by unqualified personnel. This comes amid efforts by the CSC to recruit substantive heads to avert the crisis in the two provinces.

Last week it was reported that the CSC had started searching for 303 school heads to be deployed in Matabeleland North for both primary and secondary schools. It has since emerged that the recruitment is for all the three provinces in the Matabeleland region, with Matabeleland North and South the worst affected.

Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Professor Paul Mavhima acknowledged the shortage which he said was not exclusive to Matabeleland region but prevalent in most parts of the country.

“This is a countrywide problem which we are working on addressing as a matter of urgency. We are aware that for us to improve the national pass rate there is a need for us to recruit suitably qualified personnel. However, what has to be noted is that this is not an overnight process but certainly we are working with the Civil Service Commission to address the matter,” said the Deputy Minister.

Although the number of secondary schools without substantive heads in the province could not be established, there are 42 vacant posts. Lupane district is the hardest hit in the province with 84 schools without substantive heads, followed by Binga and Tsholotsho which both have 71, Nkayi 46, Hwange 27, Umguza nine and Bubi four.

Matabeleland North provincial education director Mrs Boithatelo Mnguni said the vacancy rate in the province was worrying, noting that any institution without leadership was a recipe for disaster.

“Naturally any school without substantive leadership can face a possible crisis because you would want a leader to lead the ship. I am happy that these appointments have finally come through, they were long overdue,” said Mrs Mnguni.

Matabeleland North Province is also hard hit by an acute shortage of teachers, with recent reports revealing that at least four schools in the province’s Hwange District might be forced to close while several others in other districts in Matabeleland North are being run by skeleton staff including village heads. The situation has been attributed to the ban on re-engagement of temporary teachers and the shunning of the schools by qualified teachers.

Matabeleland South provincial education director Mrs Tumisang Thabela also confirmed that the province had a high vacancy rate of schools heads.

“We have a number of vacant posts and right now we are in the process of recruiting to fill in the posts. We have since advertised the vacant posts. With regards to how many posts are vacant I don’t have the information off hand but I can confirm that in primary schools we have a vacancy rate of about 40 percent and 20 percent in secondary schools. It is affecting us in terms of management of these institutions because if you have people that are not really meant to be there you cannot expect optimum performance,” said Mrs Thabela.

The Matabeleland South provincial education director recently revealed that there was an 80 percent shortage of Early Childhood Development teachers and 40 percent shortage of Mathematics and Science teachers at secondary schools.

Bulawayo provincial education director Mr Dan Moyo said in his province the situation was far much better as he required just five substantive school heads for both primary and secondary schools.

“What happened is that just before the Government freeze we promoted as much as possible and fortunately we have not had many retirements or resignations hence our position is far much better as we need about five school heads at both primary and secondary level,” said Mr Moyo.