FOLLOWING a documentary that was published by The NewsHawks on 16 February this year, which exposed a shocking scenario in which one teacher had been single handedly teaching more than 800 pupils at Chimandau Primary School in Rushinga, 181 teachers have since been deployed to the district in a move aimed at lowering the pupil-to-teacher ratio.
The development comes at a time the government is moving to address the critical shortage of teachers that has greatly affected rural and remote schools.
The situation was not unique to Chimandau Primary School alone; several others from the same district, like Matoto and Maparepare, were also facing the same predicament. At some point, more than 1 000 students from Kasika Primary School, also in Rushinga, were left stranded for months when the school was temporarily closed after the last remaining teacher had left.
Community leaders and parents who were interviewed were disheartened by the zero percent pass rate that had for years been recorded by schools in the district. They pleaded with the relevant authorities to avail teachers as soon as possible, before children’s lives are ruined.
This media coverage brought widespread awareness to the harsh reality that students from such marginalised communities deal with on a daily basis and caused an uproar from different stakeholders which forced the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to put pressure on the Public Service Commission (responsible for the recruitment of teachers) to take on more educators so that the existing gap may be covered.
Statistics from 2021 indicated that 140 000 teachers were responsible for the 4.6 million learners in Zimbabwe and that there was a need to recruit an additional 40 000 educators. Rushinga legislator Tendai Nyabani told The NewsHawks that the deployment of 181 teachers to his constituency was a move in the right direction that is going to lessen the teacher crisis the area had been facing for years.
“I’m delighted that schools in my constituency got 181 teachers from the recent recruitment. It’s a step in the right direction that will go a long way in solving the teacher crisis Rushinga has been having for years.”
Nyabani called for the decentralisation of the teacher recruitment process, a move he believes will go a long way in reducing the number of teachers who do not take up posts after recruitment or leave after having worked for a month or less.
“We are calling for the decentralisation of the teacher recruitment system because the reason why a lot of our schools are ending up with one to no teachers is because people who get posted here from different areas are not used to the climatic conditions from here.”
“Rushinga is an arid place and basics like water are hard to find. There is no way that someone from Mutare or Harare will brave the living conditions we are exposed to. Hiring qualified personnel from here who are used to our way of life will give our pupils a chance at a better future,’’ he said.