13 December 2018

Zimbabwe: Teacher Shortage Hits Mashonaland West

MASHONALAND West Province has a shortage of 2 938 teachers, with the bulk required in early childhood development (ECD) classes.

Acting provincial education director Mr Gabriel Mhumha said the situation needed urgent address as the teacher-learner ratio was continuing to widen.

The teacher-learner ratio in some schools was 1:70 or more in some cases.

He said of the 2 938 teaching vacancies, 1 691 were for ECD classes, while 750 were needed for Grade 1 to 7 classes and 497 for secondary schools.

"The total number of primary school teachers in the province is 9 336, while for secondary it is 3 608. We have 2 609 ECD teachers only in the province," revealed Mr Mhumha.

Mashonaland West Province has 16 843 teachers against a population of 509 733 learners.

This affects the ideal teacher-learner ratio and subsequently compromises the quality of education being offered in schools as teachers become overloaded with work.

He said there was a possibility that some pupils were not getting the necessary attention.

"Teacher deficit is seriously affecting our education sector province.

"There will be too many pupils needing the attention of one teacher," he said.

"So as a result teachers will end up concentrating only on intelligent pupils, meaning that those who have learning challenges are at a great disadvantage."

Government recommends a learner-teacher ratio of 1:20 for ECD classes and 1:40 for Grade 3 to 7 classes.

At secondary level, a teacher is expected to attend to between 25-30 learners. This has, however, not been the case after Government stopped the recruitment of civil servants, including teachers as part of measures to curb recurrent expenditure.

Provincial Public Service Commission human resources manager Mr Edmund Maparango confirmed the shortage of teachers in the province.

He said in some cases the affected schools were not registered, thereby failing to present their case to the commission.

"We understand the concerns, especially that the teacher-pupil ratio is undesirable.

"We are also encouraging all unregistered schools to register because if they are to ask for a staff complement, they will not get a positive result," he said.

The province has fared badly with a below 50 percent pass rate for Grade 7 and O-Level according to the 2016-2017 statistics which showed a drop to 36,3 percent in 2017 from 47 percent the previous year.

O-Level results showed a drop to 23,8 percent in 2017 from 25,8 percent in 2016, while there was an improvement in the pass rate at A-Level to 88 percent from 87,2 percent in 2016.

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