Zim literacy levels exaggerated: Coltart


BULAWAYO – Zimbabwe’s “exaggerated” literacy rate by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), has caused complacency leading to lower pass rates and standards in schools, minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, David Coltart has said.

Speaking during a book launch at the Bulawayo Art Gallery recently, Coltart said his ministry had been in denial mode regarding dropping standards, which have resulted in a string of poor results, but had been jolted to face the reality.

“UNDP released statics a few years ago that Zimbabwe had the highest literacy rate in Africa and that was a disservice to us. I think it lulled us into a sense of false security regarding the state of our education,” Coltart said.

Coltart said he has been criticised for questioning the sincerity of the results since the UNDP based performance on a pupil’s first four years in school without taking cognisance of other years spent at school.

Data presented to him by educational officers in every province does not tally with that of UNDP, spelling serious problems in the troubled sector, he said.

“The (then) provincial education director for Manicaland Peter Muzawazi did a study of Grade Five children and was horrified by the results. He established that the average literacy level of Grade Five children was actually that of Grade One or Two,” Coltart said.

Zimbabwe, according to the UNDP, has the highest literacy rate in Africa. The much touted literacy rate has somewhat not translated into good results for school going pupils ,where the 2013 Ordinary level results revealed that the ‘O’ Levels pass rate dropped from 19,5 percent to 18,4 percent, while the ‘A’ Level rate rose from 67,21 percent in 2012 to 82.09 percent. – Nyasha Chingono

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