Education milestone as children get new books

As primary schools receive new textbooks, the Government promises to improve teachers conditions, wrotes our special correspendent.

The countrys 5,000 primary schools should receive new textbooks by the end of this term. But books alone will not improve childrens education. Schools have been short of teachers since the economic crisis in 2008 forced many teachers to choose other jobs or go abroad.

The minister of education, sport, arts and culture, Senator David Coltart, told The Zimbabwean that although he was pleased to report that distribution of new textbooks, funded by Unicef, had started well, he was aware that textbooks alone, without good and motivated teachers, are not useful.

He said his ministry had engaged other cabinet ministers to come up with a lasting solution to the plight of teachers. He would like to improve teachers salaries and accommodation and maintain a teachers council. There were also plans to hire untrained personnel to help teachers until it was possible to increase the number of trained teachers.

Schools in rural areas are having the new textbooks delivered first, before the rainy season makes transport difficult.

This is a huge exercise, requiring 500 truckloads, which requires collective effort at every stage. The remote areas include Binga in Matabeleland North, Malapati and Nyamapanda on the border with Mozambique, said Coltart, who added that the books were being taken straight to schools.

Coltart said the textbook scheme was a milestone in the countrys education history. It would go a long way towards helping children and transforming the quality of education.

This visionary partnership between the inclusive government, international donor community and the UN has brought hope for children because they now have books and learning materials for the first time in years, he said.

The goal is to reduce the pupil-textbook ratio from the current 15 pupils per textbook to one textbook for each student in each of four core subjects, English, maths, sciences and Ndebele and Shona languages.

Coltart said the government was also approving material for printing textbooks in Kalanga, Xhosa, Sotho, Tonga, Shangani, Venda and Nambya.

Meanwhile, printing of secondary school textbooks is expected to start soon after the distribution of primary schoolbooks ends. Distribution starts early next year.

Post published in: Education

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