Capacitate rural schools for improved pass rate

The Chronicle

Blessing Karubwa, Features Reporter
AFTER four years of waking up at 4AM determined to shape a better future, the pain of not attaining one’s desired goals overweighs the time they spent chasing unfulfilled dreams.

This is a common story in rural Matabeleland North and Elinet Moyo (20), a former Nesigwe Secondary School learner relates to it.

Elinet grew up in the rugged Sebhumane community under Chief Skhobokhobo in Nkayi district, where her parents were into subsistence farming. But owing to low rainfall patterns and effects of climate change, their efforts never gave them the comfort they desired.

With her parents struggling to make ends meet, it was her dream to transform the family’s standard of life for the better and a good education was the gateway to that dream.

However, her background would have none of that. The odds were against her. She had no-one in the family to look forward to and give the much-needed academic guidance.

Her two elder sisters had not completed Ordinary Level. And so, she had no-one to help her with her homework at home.
At school, Elinet was a prefect. She was well- mannered, determined, smart but an average performer in class according to rural standards.

The strain of enduring a 15-kilometre walk to school weighed heavily on her studies. And like every girl child, in any rural setup where duties are defined, she was supposed to assist her mother with household chores and it ate into her study time.

This resulted in her sleeping way after 9 PM almost every day.

“I would wake up at 4AM and leave for school thirty minutes later. I will get to school at around 7.50AM depending on my speed. Before break time I was always fresh for lessons but soon after break time, I would start feeling tired.

“Sometimes I would sleep for an hour during times when I had no lessons so that I recoup my strength and improve my concentration levels.

“After school, I would get home way after 6PM and I would find my parents just coming from the fields, especially during farming seasons. You know when you are a girl child, no matter how tired you are, you cannot let your parents prepare food for you,” she said.

The phrase that says among the blind, one-eyed man is king rings true for Elinet as she was the best performer at her school during the November 2021 Zimsec examinations. She passed two subjects out of the five that she sat for.

Besides the effects of Covid-19, she believes that the distance which she walked every day to school contributed much to her poor results.

Her parents couldn’t afford the ‘‘luxury’’ of paying for extra lessons to enhance her examination preparedness.

“There are a few teachers conducting extra lessons here but most parents don’t appreciate the need and some just can’t afford.

The costs are too high for them and as for me it was about both factors,” she said.

The district is one of the areas with poor network connections rendering online learning virtually impossible.

The zero-percent pass rate was not only recorded at Nesigwe Secondary School.

Dr Sithembiso Nyoni

The school is just a graphical representation of several schools dotted around the province that recorded a zero percent pass rate.

Women Affairs, Community, and Small and Medium Enterprises Development Minister Dr Sithembiso Nyoni, who is also Nkayi North legislator said it was sad that several schools recorded a zero percent pass rate in Nkayi district.

“The district lacks role models to motivate learners. Parents also do not motivate their children; some do not appreciate the importance of education especially to the girl child. More needs to be done to improve learning conditions in the whole province.

“We need more classrooms in each school so that learners are provided with a conducive learning environment. Overcrowding is high and, in some schools, there are not enough teachers. We have cases where a school would have two teachers,” said the minister.

She appealed for the deployment of more teachers and the provision of decent accommodation that motivate teachers to stay at schools.

Matabeleland North Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister, Cde Richard Moyo, said learners did not have enough time for learning due to lockdowns.

Minister of State and Provincial Affairs and Devolution for Matabeleland North Cde Richard Moyo

He encouraged teachers and the Ministry of Education to put extra effort to bring back a better pass rate in the province.

“Covid-19 pandemic inspired lockdowns contributed much to the poor pass rates in Matabeleland North schools. Some teachers were also absenting themselves from work as they cited incapacitation, a move that also affected learning in schools.

“The Ministry of Education should work hard to improve pass rates while teachers’ grievances should be looked at without disrupting learning,” said Cde Moyo.

He says President Mnangagwa is working tirelessly to cut down on the distance travelled by learners through the construction of 3 000 schools in Matabeleland region.

“Several schools are going to be built. I also encourage local authorities to channel devolution funds towards improving our schools so that children may have proper learning infrastructure,” said Cde Moyo.

Director of Communications and Advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro said 16 schools recorded a zero percent pass rate in Matabeleland North Province.

Mr Taungana Ndoro

He said the ministry will prioritise deploying qualified teachers in schools with zero percent pass rates.

“There are a lot of issues which contribute to low pass rate. We are however, looking at the availability of qualified teachers in those areas. We are looking at training teachers on fundamental literacy which is key in addressing the zero percent pass rate,” said Mr Ndoro. — @BlehKarubwa

Article Source: The Chronicle

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