BY MUSA MAKINA
Methembe Ndiweni of St Peters says he was forced to transfer his child from St Peters Primary school despite it being the nearest to his home.
“My first born performed badly in the 2018 Grade 7 examinations at St Peters, and I decided to transfer the second born to Malindela Primary School in Pumula North where he is doing very well,” Ndiweni said.
St Peters is a peri-urban suburb and is separated from Pumula by a bush.
St Peters and Aisleby primary schools located in the Reigate district are notorious for poor results.
According to a Bulawayo City Council annual report for the year ended December 31, 2016, Aisleby and St. Peter’s were the worst performing schools recording zero pass rates.
In 2017, Aisleby and St Peters maintained their bottom positions.
In 2020, Malindela was the best performing school, improving its 2019 pass rate by 11, 8%.
However, Aisleby was the worst performing school with a zero percent pass rate.
The local authority says St Peters had a 13, 5 % pass rate, second from the bottom and Manondwane had a 31, 1%pass rate and was placed third from bottom.
In 2019, council-run primary schools excelled in the country’s national Grade 7 public examinations, with the province taking the top spot, despite a general decline in the pass rate.
According to the local authority’s annual report, council schools managed to perform satisfactorily, as all the 29 schools scored above the 50 percent pass rate.
However, the national pass rate for 2020 Grade Seven examinations went down from 46, 9 % to 37, 1%, with this attributed to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools eventually opened in phases during the third quarter of the year which heavily affected educational activities, resulting in the pass rate falling.
For the year 2021, council said 4 807 learners sat for the 2021 Grade 7 final examinations (and 2 688 learners passed the six subjects with five or better.
The pass rate was ranked at 55, 92%.
“Aisleby maintained the bottom place and had zero percent pass rate similar to 2020 and at second position from the bottom was St. Peters that lost 11% from 13.56% to 2.56%.
“Ingubo, at position three from the bottom continued to disappoint, losing 3, 26% from 38.74% to 35.48%,” a council report notes.
Sikhululekile Moyo, a councilor for ward 17 where St Peter’s primary is located, said the schools suffer accessibility challenges.
“The situation at St Peter’s school is very bad, mainly because of accessibility due to bad roads, something which I feel has contributed negatively to the poor results,” Moyo said.
“ That alone demoralises teachers.”
Ward 4 councilor Silas Chigora added: “You find that learners there are from farms and generally due to the rural set up, teachers shun the school and you end up having temporary teachers taking up the task.”
With statistics showing how competent most of council- run schools, a villager in St Peters Martha Dungeni, had no kind words for the city fathers.
“Honestly, this does not make sense, yes we are in the peri urban, and not rural areas,” Dungeni said.
“If a school which is less than 30 kilometres from the city can be neglected like this, what then do you expect from schools in Nkayi or Tsholotsho?”
*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.