HARARE – Zimbabwe's once brilliant public education sector is in a
shambles, with the government unsure how many teachers or pupils were
in schools and without cash to revive crumbling schools or pay
teachers, according to Education Minister David Coltart.
Our schools are derelict and we do not have accurate information on
how many teachers are in schools, and the schools have been
vandalised, Coltart told journalists in Harare last week.
Coltart said pleas to international donors for cash to pay teachers had
yielded nothing to date – a situation that could trigger a fresh job
boycott by the country's teachers.
Teachers unions had earlier last week said that their members would not
report for duty in the second term in May if salaries were not
increased from the US$100 a month every civil servant is currently
Our entreaties (for money) to donors have failed. Money has not flown
into our coffers yet, said Coltart, a member of the former opposition
MDC party who joined government in February under a power-sharing deal
with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu (PF) party and the main MDC wing
led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
While we are very concerned with the genuine demands of the teachers,
right now I can not promise anything in terms of salaries, said
Coltart, who appealed to teachers unions to show a spirit of patriotism
by delaying industrial action while the government looks for money for
Very little learning took place at public schools last year as teachers
spent the better part of the year striking for more pay or sitting at
home because could not afford bus fare to work on their meagre salaries.
As teachers left schools unattended and pupils to their own devices,
hooliganism crept in and buildings at most schools were vandalised with
doors removed and windowpanes broken.
A semblance of order has returned to schools after teachers returned to
work after the government paid them salaries/allowances in hard cash
but staffing levels at some schools remained very low, according to
Coltart who announced a 14-member body to help cobble up a plan to
restore Zimbabwe's schools to their former glory.
The National Education Advisory Board is chaired by Isaiah Sibanda a,
former permanent secretary in the ministry of education, former
education minister Fay Chung, MDC member Trudy Stevenson and Sharayi
Union leaders, Tendayi Chikowore from the Zimbabwe Teachers'
Association (ZIMTA) and Takavarasha Zhou from the Progressive Teachers'
Union of Zimbabwe are also members of the advisory board.
The board was tasked to carry out a detailed assessment of the
education system and develop a five-year education plan. It will also
provide advisory services to Coltart.
Zimbabwe's public education system was once highly rated and the envy
of many across Africa but a decade of political crisis and acute
recession left the education in disarray and without resources to
maintain or develop infrastructure.
Meanwhile Coltart said results for last year's public examinations
should be available by the end of the current school term in April.
Answer sheets had remained unmarked after teachers refused to mark them
because of the paltry allowances they were being paid for the exercise.
UNCEF had to step in with the cash to pay teachers to mark the papers,
We should not have high expectations for the quality of the results.
Children were in schools for less hours than expected per year and we
had about 40 percent of teachers in schools. There was massive
disruption of the school calendar last year and this will be reflected
in the results, said Coltart. –
UCT allows Zimbabwean students to register and settle fees later
For the second year running, the University of Cape (UCT) has allowed
Zimbabwean students who failed to settle their fees in full because of
the shortage of foreign exchange at home to register.
The Students Representative Council (SRC) said in statement that
Zimbabweans would be allowed to attend class and move into halls of
residency after paying only a fraction of both the tuition and
However, returning students had to show that they had settled prior
fees in full and paid a minimum of R5 700 into their tuition account.
Students in university housing were required to pay an extra R7 000 for
catering accommodation while those in self-catering units paid R5 700
on top of the tuition fee.
Annual fees for undergraduate studies at UCT for 2009, range from R27
000 for a B Com degree to R35 500 for BSc in 0cupational Therapy.
The SRC said UCT would not charge the students interest on outstanding
fee accounts for the reduced initial payments. Additionally, the
students would not be penalised for late registration provided the fees
were settled in full by 30 June 2009.
A Zimbabwean student who receives this dispensation will not be
charged any late registration penalty, late payment fee or interest on
the fee account for the reduced minimum payment made. Interest as per
UCT's normal rules will only accrue on the balance fees outstanding
after the 30 June final fee payment date, said the statement.
UCT, which is billed as one of Africa's top universities, has one of
the largest contingents of Zimbabweans studying outside the country.
Last year, there were 870 Zimbabweans studying at UCT, making this the
largest foreign block of students there.
Zimbabweans easily outstrip the number of black South Africans enrolled
at the university which is built on land donated by the founder of
Rhodesia, Cecil John Rhodes.
Since the collapse of the education system in Zimbabwe, thousands of
Zimbabweans have been streaming across the border every year to study
at universities there.