14 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Acting Heads Man 80 Percent of Zim Schools - Coltart

Photo: Unicef/IRIN
School kids sharing text books in Zimbabwe.

CLOSE to 80 percent of school headmasters countrywide are in an acting capacity, amid reports that those aspiring to fill the posts do not have the requisite qualifications. Most education officials at district and provincial offices are also serving in an acting capacity as the freeze on vacant posts by Treasury is affecting the education system.

Some teachers have been acting headmasters for over 12 years.

This has compromised the administration of most schools countrywide, leading to low pass rates.

Government has 3 318 posts with substantive headmasters in primary schools and 1 109 filled posts in secondary schools.

This is against over 8 000 primary and secondary schools in the country, including satellite centres.

Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart yesterday said most of the posts were not being filled because the educators lacked the required qualifications.

"We now require people to have university degrees while the issue of experience also counts," he said.

"The situation in schools is unacceptable as a large number of headmasters are serving in an acting capacity.

"There is also lack of Treasury concurrence as the freeze on posts has also taken toll on the education system. Sometimes we might have a few qualified people, but it is hard to take them on substantive basis because of the freeze."

Minister Coltart said lack of incentives has also demotivated teachers aspiring to be headmasters.

"There is a difference of a few dollars between a headmaster and a qualified teacher, but the workload for the headmaster is more," he said.

"In that case, a person opts to remain without much responsibility because the salary would be almost the same."

Minister Coltart said there were administrative problems in processing applications for new headmasters.

"The process one goes through to be confirmed as a headmaster is tedious, while those who want to be re-admitted into the sector are facing similar problems he said.

"It is our hope that Government would understand our plight and appoint the headmasters on substantive basis to save our schools."

Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said some teachers had been acting heads for many years.

Public Service Commission stipulate that a person is supposed to act for six months before being confirmed a substantive head.

"To us, Government is using cheap labour because it does not want to appoint someone who has acted for 12 years to become a substantive head," said Mr Ndlovu.

"To make matters worse, there is no acting allowances being paid to those teachers. This is a national crisis because most of the district and provincial offices have officials serving on an acting capacity."

Mr Ndlovu said lack of substantive heads would affect the quality of education.

"This affects supervision and obviously exam results for a particular institution will be affected."

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general, Mr Raymond Majongwe said most schools were led by acting headmasters who,

"constantly pay bribes and kickbacks to their superiors like DEOs and PEDs

for them to remain in those positions."

"Most of these people pay to remain in those posts, but they are not able to make affirmative administrative decisions," he said.

"Long back, there used to be headmaster refresher courses at Chishawasha, but they have since vanished. It was during such courses that they were taught about administrative issues."

The Zimsec November 2012 O-level results released this week showed that the pass rate had dropped from 19,5 percent to 18,4.

Only 31 767 candidates attained passes in five subjects out 172 698 who sat for the examinations.

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