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Could There Be Any Hope for Education in Zimbabwe After Covid-19

04 May 2020 at 08:43hrs | Views
The corona virus also known as covid-19 caused immediate stoppages of all activities of life as a whole hence formal education especially of children in schools and young people in tertiary institutions automatically came to a very sudden halt. It certainly had to go that way to stop the spread of the deadly virus that is killing thousands.

As we are now deep into it and with pressure mounting on the authorities to come out with some form of balancing of our safety and the socio-economic realities, it is imperative that the education sector be crawled back somehow.

New strategies have to be formulated and put in place but before that .the pre-covid-19 realities of our education must be scrutinised.
In schools the system was manned by disillusioned personnel. There were persistent threats of strikes and numerous rumours of other types of labour unrests in the education sector.  Endless series of negotiations with the government as educators struggled to survive were fruitless. The educators were severely affected by the ever rising inflation hence the cost of living with many of them facing starvation and abject poverty. They had lost all the dignity of being professionals.

On the ground, that is in the classroom the work load was ridiculously insurmountable with some teachers having to teach up to 50 learners who would share textbooks. The sharing could be anything up to 4 learners per book.

Coupled with all this there was always the traditional abuse by ZanuPF politicians of the education infrastructure. Children could be force marched in their hundreds to ZanuPF rallies to chant slogans whenever ZanuPF saw fit to hold a public meeting. Buses bought by the parents for learners could be seized at any time to transport  ZanuPF members to conferences or any destination for their convenience at any given time.

Those who were appointed to head tertiary institutions would have to tore the line. Principals of colleges and their staff members would compulsorily attend ZanuPF organised meetings. Their learners would be called into halls to be threatened with undisclosed punitive measures if they ever refused to attend the ZanuPF organised activities. Apparently ZanuPF youths would summon everyone including members of staff to its meetings on the college grounds.

Finally, still on the pre-covid-19 era the graduate teachers could spend up to 4 years without getting engaged as teachers while those from universities were told to open their own businesses. This included those who had studied banking from the National University of Science and Technology who were encouraged to open their own banks.

The leader of ZanuPF, the President of Zimbabwe Mr. E D Mnangagwa talked about education in his speech to extend the lockdown. Of interest was his mention of the online teaching that would be "enhanced".  Online teaching demands more equipment than textbooks. One cannot imagine that a class of 35 learners using one old and torn literature text book will suddenly get lessons on line. Obviously, what he said can be taken as just one of those public speeches that please the listener even if it is quite clear that the majority of the learners in schools will not be able to do this in the near future let alone under any ZanuPF government.

Covid-19 has created a war like situation. That is why soldiers were deployed. Any government that is running a country during a war situation must have behind it a national consensus.  The luxurious politics of "this is a ZanuPF affair" game will certainly throw the already severely maimed education sector to some worse doldrums if not to an altogether unprecedented collapse especially for children from the majority of the impoverished population.

Zapu`s education department urges the ZanuPF government to take education seriously. The unhelpful tendencies of seeing an opportunity to enrich oneself at every turn must end and the outdated Maoist approach "that since we are armed we are the fish and the people are the water" must be abandoned.  A national consensus for education must be built without any farther delay if there can be any hope.

Source - Lovejean Ndlovu, Zapu Deputy Secretary For Education- NEC
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