BY CALVIN MANIKA
BUSANI Ncube’s dream is to become a nurse.
But across the field, his mother Anna Ncube (39) feels sorry for him.
“Seeing these boys is like looking at the shattered big dreams. I think our education system is failing us,” Ncube said.
“The biggest issues are distance and teachers.
“Our children walk almost seven kilometres every day to school only to find a demoralised teacher if not inexperienced.”
Lupane primary schools have been recording poor pass rates in Grade 7 and Ordinary Level final examinations over the years.
According to the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec), Matabeleland North 2020’s Grade 7 pass rate fell to 37.11 % from 46.9% recorded in 2019.
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At least 85 primary schools have recorded zero pass rates. In 2021, the province had the worst Grade 7 pass rate nationally.
Former Lupane Senator Dalumuzi Khumalo said there were a number of factors contributing to the poor pass rates.
“During the past two years there was no schooling to talk about due to Covid-19,” Khumalo said.
“At the same time, the majority of the teachers do not understand or speak the local language to make learning easy.”
Education infrastructure is an important factor in determining the quality of learning and graduates being churned out, however, most schools in the district lack basic infrastructure and a conducive learning environment.
Christopher Ndlovu, a lecturer at Lupane State University, in a research project with the University of the Free State in South Africa and the Baobab, said many learners in Lupane cannot read.
“Most of the learners showed that they read below their standard and most of the Grade 7 learners in the district cannot read or face difficulties in reading.
“This is the major cause of poor results,” reads the research report in part.
The Covid-19 pandemic also exposed the lack of enabling learning infrastructure in the district as learners were missing out on e-learning.
Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro could not be reached for comment.
But he was quoted in the press saying the ministry is satisfied with Lupane’s 2021 Grade 7 results.
“We are encouraged by the increased pass rate in Matabeleland North province,” a man who identified himself as Ndoro was quoted saying.
Khumalo said the under payment of teachers is also contributing to the poor pass rate in the district.
“The remuneration of teachers leaves a lot to be desired,” he said.
“Teachers need to be paid a decent salary for them to be effective in the classroom.”
*This article was originally published by The Citizen Bulletin, a non-profit news organisation that produces hard hitting hyperlocal reporting and analysis for south western region of Matabeleland.