School fails to open over teacher short­age

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Nqo­bile Tshili

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

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