DEPUTY Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Paul Mavima says the shortage of qualified teachers is resulting in the deployment of non-Ndebele speaking teachers to the Matabeleland region.
The increasing number of non-Ndebele speaking teachers in Matabeleland has irked parents, civic organisations, politicians and educationists, who blame the development for the low pass rates in the region where some primary schools recorded zero percent pass rate last year.
In an interview, Mavima said his ministry was fully aware of the anomaly which needed to be addressed.
"The ministry is aware of the complaint. Although we are not responsible for the actual deployment of teachers, we share some of the sentiments. As we deploy, we should be cognisant of the fact that young children should be taught by people who have a clear understanding of their languages," said Mavima.
"This would make the instruction process better and even the new constitution recognises the 16 languages, with Kalanga, Xhosa [etc] as official languages."
He said the ministry was mandated to promote all the languages.
"We have an obligation as a ministry to mainstream these official languages and to ensure that adequately trained teachers are available to teach these languages," said Mavima.
He bemoaned the shortage of qualified teachers which was contributing to the current challenges being faced in the region.
"We have about 14 000 temporary teachers which means we have a shortage. We are working on the programme that would expedite the training of teachers. Because of the shortage of teachers, we also have a situation whereby someone trained to teach Shona goes to teach science or someone trained in history being deployed to teach science," said the deputy minister.
"We have a long term plan to ensure that appropriate deployment takes place."
Recently the Zimbabwe Academic and Non-fiction Authors Association (Zana) deputy provincial education director for Bulawayo province, Richard Swene, chided the Civil Service Commission for employing primary school teachers whose first language was not Ndebele.
Some people in Matabeleland have called for an establishment of more teacher training colleges in the region to address the problem of deployment of non-Ndebele speaking teachers, particularly in primary schools.