School fails to open over teacher shortage
A SCHOOL in Hwange has failed to open for the third term after the sole teacher, who took Grades One to Seven and doubled as a headmistress, did not turn up for work.
Schools opened on Tuesday last week for the third term but pupils at Nengasha Primary School have been unable to attend lessons.
Parents said since last term, a Mrs Zhou has been single-handedly running the school.
The Chronicle visited the school on Thursday and there was nothing going on with the classroom blocks empty.
Some parents who spoke to this newspaper said they were worried about the future of their children.
One of the parents, Mr Bakani Ndlovu, said it has been years since the school last had a full complement of teachers.
“The school has always been run mostly by temporary teachers. During the first term, there were four teachers, one qualified and three temporary teachers. We’re told that the other three didn’t turn up last term as Government didn’t renew their contracts. Mrs Zhou came last term and ran the school alone the whole term. This term she came but didn’t stay. We don’t know where she is,” said Mr Ndlovu.
He said the absence of teachers was affecting pupils, especially Grade Sevens who are sitting for public examinations.
“We’ve Grade seven pupils who are losing out because there is no one to teach them. Even other classes get to Grade Seven without adequate preparation in this set up,” Mr Ndlovu said.
Another parent, Mrs Khethani Ndlovu, said community leaders at times asked volunteers — some without O Levels — to teach their children.
The parents said the school had been facing staffing challenges since its establishment in 1983.
Mr Future Jimu said some parents had considered transferring their children but changed their minds as the nearest school, Dinde Primary School, was about 14km away.
“This area is about 7km from Hwange National Park. There’re dangerous animals here, we’ve elephants, lions and other wild animals. It’s dangerous for children to travel at dawn to Dinde Primary School as animals will also be on the prowl,” said Mr Jimu.
Mrs Pascaline Dube said the Government should avail teachers for the school as their absence was a violation of their children’s right to education.
“Our kids need to restart the 2016 academic year. When the year began we had four teachers but last term the headmistress was working alone. She couldn’t teach all the classes.
“Our children who are doing Grade One could write and read in the first term but now it’s like they’ve never been to a class. They have forgotten everything,” said Mrs Dube.
She said the school should be opened as transferring children to another school was not an option.
Mrs Dube said due to distances and fear that their children can be attacked by animals, they engage communities closer to a secondary school to look after their children.
A teacher who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “I once taught at that school. Working conditions are terrible. When one gets off a bus at the main road, they have to walk about 14 kilometres to the school. If you arrive at night, you risk being attacked by wild animals.
“I taught Grades Five and Six. I can’t even begin telling you about the burden of scheming for about 10 subjects for the two grades. I can only imagine the workload Mrs Zhou had.”
Matabeleland North provincial education director Mrs Boithatelo Mnguni said the absence of teachers was not affecting Nengasha Primary School alone but was common in Hwange District.
“I can’t comment on this. There are many schools in Hwange that don’t have teachers. Some of them are being taught by villagers who volunteer to teach. The Ministry (of Primary and Secondary Education) can’t do anything, we expect those who’re supposed to recruit to do their job. They know the problem,” said Mrs Mnguni.
According to the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), about 25 000 teachers are unemployed in the country. — @nqotshili
Deserted Nengasha Primary School in Hwange