‘Govt biggest threat to education’
BULAWAYO – Government remains the biggest threat to the development of the education sector, a Cabinet minister has said.
Education minister David Coltart (pictured) has blamed the poor pass rate recorded for last year’s ‘O’ Level examinations on warped government priorities, which have seen ministers and top officials getting luxury cars while public schools remain underfunded.
Coltart said while commendable pass rates have been recorded in Grade 7 and ‘A’ Level examinations between 2009 and 2012, his ministry achieved the feat on a tight budget supported mainly by donors.
“This gradual overall progress has been achieved in an environment of minimal government funding for education outside of the payment of teachers. While donor support through the Education Transition Fund has been generous, it has been small compared to the amount of donor support the education sector got in the 1980s,” Coltart wrote on his Facebook wall.
He said in one year alone in the 1980s, the United States government — a major donor — would contribute over $100 million to Zimbabwe’s education sector. That support has dwindled to $1 million since he took over as minister in 2009.
“No support whatsoever has been forthcoming for the second phase of the Education Transition Fund from that quarter,” Coltart said.
During the economic meltdown experienced between 2003 and 2009, the education sector suffered as qualified teachers left the country for greener pastures due to poor salaries.
“The damage done to the education sector by the chaos of the last decade and underfunding for two decades is incalculable but we see the effects through these low pass rates,” Coltart wrote.
Residents in Bulawayo have criticised the minister and teachers for the poor results, saying their children’s future looked bleak.
One irate parent, Priscilla Mtombeni, said: “Teachers are not committed to our children, but are busy syphoning cash from us for extra lessons which do not translate into good results.”
Cosmas Ndlovu, a high school teacher, blamed the poor pass rate on students’ obsession with mobile phones and Internet, saying these affected studies.
Last year’s ‘O’ Level results reveal that the pass rate dropped by 1,1 percent. – Nyasha Chingono