There is a critical shortage of trained Mathematics and Science teachers in the country, with more than 1 500 vacant posts. This was revealed by Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora in an address to the Matabeleland Zanu-PF leadership during a recent meeting in Bulawayo to clarify the country's education policy.
"Over 1 500 Science and Mathematics teachers are needed for these subjects. The posts are vacant and we want to fill up these posts," he said.
"I hope in the next three years more teachers are going to be trained so that we can address this problem."
Minister Dokora said the shortage of Science and Mathematics teachers undermined Government's desire to have more Zimbabweans studying these subjects which have been identified as strategic for the country's development.
"Lack of Science teachers has led to the production of students with no science skills. This is discouraging the uptake of science and mathematical subjects," he said.
The shortage of Mathematics and Science teachers is prevalent in all the country's 10 provinces.
Matabeleland and Midlands provinces are the hardest hit, with vacancy rates of more than 55 percent.
Shortages of science laboratories and other learning materials in rural and urban schools have also worsened the problem.
The flight of skilled Mathematics and Science teachers to neighbouring countries in search of better pay and working conditions has compounded the problem.
Minister Dokora explained the deployment of non-Ndebele-speaking teachers in Matabeleland saying it was done to address the critical shortage of teachers in the region.
"The deployment of Ndebele teachers needs a systematic approach. My ministry will use available human resources to provide formal education to pupils in any part of the country.
"The issue of non-Ndebele teachers requires the engagement of other partners," Minister Dokora said.
Political leaders in Matabeleland had expressed concern that the deployment of non-Ndebele-speaking teachers was making the teaching of children difficult as it was not easy to explain issues which required use of the pupils' mother tongue.