Education ministry needs to focus

HARARE - According to one of the major national objectives pledged in the new constitution, government must see to it that the State takes all practical measures to promote free and compulsory basic education for children. It must also take measures to ensure that girls are afforded the same opportunities as boys to education at all levels.

But these constitutional pledges are unravelling before the ink has dried on the document.

Since President Robert Mugabe accented to the new constitution, there are depressing signs that government is reneging or deliberately ignoring to uphold the spirit and letter of the supreme law of the land as regards basic education.

Zimbabwe vaunts itself as one of the most literate countries on the continent with literacy rates running close to more than 90 percent. This is an appreciable achievement that should not be left to slide.

The alarming numbers of children dropping out of school due to poverty and inability to raise fees has blighted the noble constitutional pledge by creating fresh and potentially enduring problems of early marriages for the girl-child and petty crime for the frustrated male child.

Commitment to free education has now been assigned to the back burner while education officials are busy flying off the handle and dreaming up idealistic and unrealistic ideas about how the education system should increase efficiency.

Quite apart from dealing with the core issue of making basic primary education free, Primary and Secondary education minister Lazarus Dokora and his officials have been groping in the dark, fantasising about romantic concepts, while teachers and educationists vehemently oppose change for the sake of change.

Surprisingly, a presidential scholarship that had been suspended due to lack of funds has been revived in the face of the Primary and Secondary education ministry encountering severe hardships in putting free education on stream due to abject lack of funding.

The irony lies in the detail that while a noble programme to keep poor children in lower levels of school is hobbled, funds are readily available to pay for costly university education including abroad even for studies available locally.

It beggars all belief that the State would concentrate on shunting students to South African universities under a presidential scholarship scheme when it fails to give children rare opportunities to acquire the basic education that leads them to aspire to go to university.

Moreover, the major question remains how many of these student exports to South African universities have come back to put the knowledge they acquired to national benefit when there is commonplace joblessness?

It could profit the nation more if the programme was temporarily shelved and the money committed to sustain these students abroad was utilised to ensure a significant reduction of the rising number of primary and secondary school drop-outs.

Comments (1)

Dokora is playing the racist card by reversing and thwarting everything done by Coltart just because he is a white man . Dokora dishes out circulars each week like confetti , unilaterally . He is a confused clown seeking to destroy the education system . President Mugabe should kick out this vermin who removed incentives in the name of sanctions and Zimasset , whatever that rubbish means . I want him to go to St Georges next to president Mugabe's official residence and stop the entrance exams soon to be conducted there. He should order the immediate dismissal of the unpatriotic head of ZRP High School for holding entrance exams. If he does not do this then he should resign in shame for selective application of the law .

Analyst - 2 July 2014

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