EDITORIAL COMMENT: Private sector should complement Govt efforts to fully staff schools

The decision by Government to recruit 2 300 teachers this term is a very welcome development but the figure is 4 700 shy of the number required by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. It is our fervent hope that Government will approve the recruitment of the balance soon.

The recruitment of the teachers is meant to facilitate the smooth implementation of the new curriculum which was recently introduced by the Education Ministry. We have said it before that schools can only effectively implement the new curriculum if they have adequate manpower and other resources. The move to recruit teachers comes as a relief to thousands of unemployed teachers who have been roaming the streets since their graduation.

It is unfortunate that the country continues to churn out thousands of graduates from its teacher training colleges and universities but can only absorb a very small fraction. The education sector is rapidly expanding and following the introduction of the new curriculum this year, the sector’s staff establishment has ballooned but Government is unable to fill all the new posts due to limited resources.

It is against this background that we call upon the private sector, school development associations and other responsible authorities such as churches that are running schools, to pay salaries for additional teachers that cannot be engaged by Government. Companies for example, can pay salaries for the additional teachers required at the schools serving their employees’ children and the churches can do the same at their schools.

The parents through the SDAs can also pay salaries for additional teachers required at their schools. It is the responsibility of Government to pay teachers’ salaries at Government and church-run schools but given the limited resources, it is not able to pay all the teachers that schools need to implement the new curriculum hence the appeal to other stakeholders to assist.

Government has over the years prioritised the education sector when it comes to allocation of resources from the National Budget but as already pointed out, the money is not enough. Schools now need equipment and other resources to implement the new curriculum and without support from other stakeholders, Government will be overwhelmed.

Government is battling to cut its wage bill which is chewing a huge chunk of the National Budget but at the same time it has to respond to the education sector’s increased manpower needs following the introduction of the new curriculum that fosters entrepreneurship.

The thrust of the new curriculum is to produce graduates that create employment as opposed to those that seek employment.  Investing in education therefore means investing in the country’s future because it is the education system that is supposed to produce graduates with the requisite skills to move the country forward.

Zimbabwe’s graduate teachers have been forced to seek employment in neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Botswana and Namibia yet our schools do not have adequate teachers.

We want to once again call upon all stakeholders to complement Government efforts to adequately staff schools to enable them to implement the new curriculum so that the country can produce graduates with relevant skills to create employment.

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