PROGRESSIVE Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has predicted the worst pass rates, lower than yesteryears in forthcoming public examinations amid calls to tailor make nationwide technology learning based mechanisms.
This comes after the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council reported the number of candidates who sat for Ordinary Level examinations in 2020 decreased by 32 365, translating to 11% or 184 249, only 45 644 pupils obtained five subjects graded C or better.
A total of 184 249 candidates wrote five or more subjects and 45 644 passed five or more subjects with a Grade C or better giving an overall pass rate of 24.8%.
In 2019, 200 062 wrote five or more subjects and 63 215 obtained Grade C or better in five or more subjects. This translated to a 31.6% pass rate.
The statistics show that the 2020 pass rate decreased by 6.8% from that of 2019.
But speaking to Covid19zim.com soon after the announcement by the government to defer the second term schools opening, PTUZ president, Takavafira Zhou predicted the pass rates for the forthcoming year will be even lower.
"The pass rate would be worse than the 2020 academic year. At least the 2020 group learnt for the whole of 2019, as well as a complete first term.
"The 2021 academic year has been the worst for current candidates given the long lockdown last year and uncertainty of opening school any time soon," he said.
He urged authorities to be innovative and come up with tailor made solutions in order to plug the current learning gaps.
"We certainly need to invest in teacher innovations in creating class WhatsApp groups for primary schools, and subject WhatsApp groups for Secondary Schools.
"We however need to navigate two challenges, which are the provision of data bundles to teachers by the government, and appeal to organisations like UNICEF to provide learning gadgets like smart phones for pupils from poor backgrounds mostly in rural areas," said Zhou.
He called on parents and guardians to ensure that pupils have access to their phones in order to continue to learn while at their homes.
The union leader called on the government to engage teachers and parents in order to come up with a broad based strategy to combat Covid-19 in schools rather than the current approach.
Zhou said there is urgent need to divide the academic year into two terms with students continuing to learn from home until August when winter conditions that are ideal vectors for the spread of Covid-19 would have subsided.
Zhou suggested schools can open in mid-August for the second term and conduct intensive teaching and learning until mid-November with candidates writing exams from mid-November to mid-December," he proposed.
He added, "Parents must keep their children at home. They must also support teachers' initiatives over class and subject WhatsApp groups and provide their phones for use by our students.
"Parents must support teachers' call for better remuneration, and entrenchment of health and safety of teachers and pupils in schools."