Mthabisi Tshuma, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT has started the process of recruiting 10 000 teachers ahead of schools opening next Monday, a move that has been necessitated by its decision to revise the teacher-pupil ratio from Grade One to Grade Seven, as well as fill vacant posts.
Statistics last year indicated that there were over 4,6 million learners in Zimbabwe and nearly 140 000 teachers.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education requires at least 40 000 more teachers to address the critical manpower deficit in the education sector, with science subjects and early childhood development (ECD) classes being the worst affected in terms of staff complement.
Government revised upwards the number of teachers that are required as a result of the need for social distancing in schools following the outbreak of Covid-19.
Last year, Government recruited 3 816 teachers and 835 of them replaced teachers who did not report for work after the previous recruitment exercise in 2020.
From that recruitment exercise, Matabeleland South Province got the highest number of new teachers, 567, and most teach lower grades and can communicate in the local indigenous languages.
This is in line with the country’s education policy which states that children at primary school level, especially pupils from ECD up to Grade Three, are to be taught by teachers who speak the local language.
In 2020, Government recruited 5 300 teachers.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Evelyn Ndlovu said the Public Service Commission (PSC) has started the process of recruiting the teachers and was working on modalities and administrative issues.
Dr Ndlovu said a meeting was held with the PSC last week and all is on course as Government addresses the shortage of teachers in schools.
Dr Ndlovu said the recruitment will start with immediate effect as schools are set to open on Monday.
“We do not have a backlog of teacher employment as such, but what we have are vacant posts as a result of attrition, expansion as well as the need to socially distance learners in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Covid-19 protocols.
“The attrition posts will be filled as schools are reopening. The process of filling posts is carried out in consultation with PSC, the employer,” said Dr Ndlovu.
She said the Education Ministry is planning to reduce the approved teacher and student ratio in primary schools which will result in employment creation.
“The current approved ratios are: ECD a ratio of 1:20; Grade 3-7 a ratio of 1:40; Form 1- 4 a ratio of 1: 33 and A Level a ratio of 1: 20. However, we would like to have the ratio for Grade 1 to Grade 7 reduced to 1:35,” said Dr Ndlovu.
Dr Ndlovu said preparations for the opening of schools is going on well with the 2022 school calendar having been released yesterday.
The first term will run from Monday and end on April 7. Second term classes start on May 3 and end on August 4 while the third term commences on September 5 and ends on December 8.
“Normally boarders will leave a day before schools open and there will be no Covid-19 tests done prior to opening but we encourage all those in the eligible age groups for vaccination that is learners, teachers and staff to be fully vaccinated in order to manage the spread of Covid-19,” said Dr Ndlovu.
In an interview, Zimbabwe Teachers Union (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said the recruitment of teachers is a welcome move which should be done annually and in large numbers.
“We have said that we want more teachers in schools as the number is insufficient due to early retirements. The recruitment is a welcome move but we will not rejoice much as it’s a little impact and we need far more than this,” he said.
He also urged the PSC to expedite the recruitment process.–@mthabisi_mthire
Article Source: The Chronicle