BY VENERANDA LANGA
PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima has said four schools in Matabeleland North registered q 0% pass rate in the 2018 Grade Seven examinations, a situation which is worrying Parliament.
It is not clear whether the minister downplayed the failure rate because last month Matabeleland North deputy director for primary education Beatrice Manjere was quoted in the media saying 29 schools in the province recorded a 0% pass rate.
Emakhandeni-Entumbane MP Dingilizwe Tshuma (MDC Alliance) last Wednesday expressed concern over the issue and asked Mavima to explain to Parliament what the government was doing to address the zero pass rate.
“I am aware of the specific schools in the province that registered 0% pass rate at Grade 7, but it is not just Matabeleland North, but the rest of this country,” Mavima said.
“What I am happy about is that it was a minute percentage of schools that did that. In Matabeleland North, if I am not mistaken, it should be about four schools that registered 0% pass rate.”
Mavima said the situation was not acceptable, adding that the ministry had programmes that it was embarking on in order to address the anomalies at the schools recording a zero percent pass rate.
“One of the measures which MPs will be aware of is the recruitment of teachers, and we are targeting those schools that did not have sufficient numbers of teachers to teach optimally,” he said.
“We also have two programmes that we run within the ministry — one is called Performance Lag Address Programme (PLAP) and the other one is called ZELA [Zimbabwe Early Learning Assessment], which deals in making sure that there is sufficient ability to read and understand at schools.”
Ironically, while some schools are said to have insufficient teachers, around 17 000 qualified teachers in the country are said to be unemployed.
Mavima said the ministry had statistics of the poorly performing schools and would ensure that their education systems are upgraded.
“On resources, our policy has been to look at the most disadvantaged schools and those are the schools we target first. We are targeting about 3 500 primary schools with school improvement grants,” he said.
“We look at disadvantaged schools and those are the schools that we allocate resources.
“Even the distribution of teaching and learning materials that is currently going on has targeted the same schools.”
Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure said it was not the first time that schools in Matabeleland North and South had recorded 0% pass rates.
He said Mavima should present a comprehensive ministerial statement before Parliament explaining the reasons behind the high failure rate.
“Generally, the Grade 7 pass rate was better this year than last year,” the minister said.
“Like I said, there is also very few schools per province that have scored 0% pass rate this year.
“Each school will be dealt with as a specific case in order to come up with interventions for that specific school.”
In 2017, just like in 2018, a total of 29 schools in Matabeleland North were recorded as having a 0% Grade Seven pass rate.
However, in 2018 the province had a 30,4% pass rate by subjects, with a 41,82% pass rate in English, 41,82% in Mathematics, 71,41% IsiNdebele, 38,26% General Paper, 47,63% Agriculture, 67,24% Tonga, 92,28% Shona and 71, 3% pass rate in Nambya.
The province is said to experience shortages of teachers specialising in Tonga language, with 3 980 pupils having sat for the Tonga Grade Seven exam in 2018 and out of those 139 scored distinctions, translating to a 67,24% pass rate.
A total of 51 candidates were said to have written the Shona examination, recording four distinctions, translating to a 92,28% pass rate.