- Once thriving and continetal best, Zimbabwean education is said to be drowing faster than country's economy.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has today called for urgent action to address Zimbabwe’s education system, which is said to be suffering due to a combination of low salaries, poor attendance by both teachers and students, and transport and food problems.
UNICEF reports that routine monitoring visits in recent weeks found that with national exams looming, some 40 per cent of country’s teachers were attending lessons, a third of pupils were reporting for classes and that district education officers were ill equipped to run national exams.
“The current education crisis has crippled schools across the country leaving most school operating way below capacity and the sector in an apparent state of emergency,” agency said in a news release.
UNICEF Representative Roeland Monasch noted that between a two-month teachers strike, limited learning materials, political violence and displacement, Zimbabwe’s children have lost a whole year of schooling.
“The depletion of teachers in schools, transport and food problems faced by the remaining teachers and lack of resources have left the sector tottering on the brink of collapse,” he stated.
UNICEF observed that southern African nation’s education system had once been the best on continent, but a decrease in public funding, coupled with soaring school fees, lack of teachers and low morale owing to inadequate salaries have created tremendous challenges.
“Education remains the engine to drive Zimbabwe’s long-term prospects. It is critical that the sector is not left to collapse, enduring solutions on salaries, food and working conditions should be reached soon, the monitoring visits should be beefed up, the situation in schools require urgent action,” said Mr Monasch.
“Zimbabwe’s children are already suffering on multiple fronts, denying them an education to better their prospects is unacceptable,” he added.
UNICEF, which already provides support to Zimbabwe's ministry of education, sport and culture, has commited it's readyness to assisting government in improving current situation, but owing to stabilisation in country's politics as well as putting back in place sound policies.
Over last two years, agency has invested an estimated $12 million in the education sector, including through construction and furnishing of classrooms, provision of text books to primary schools, teacher training and setting up of sanitation facilities in rural schools. It also pays school fees for 150,000 orphaned and vulnerable children.
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