By Trevor Makonyonga
The Zimbabwe Teachers Association, (ZIMTA), has called on the government to ensure that funds for the education sector are increased during and after the COVID 19 pandemic.
The teachers’ union in a statement said the move would ease pressure on understaffed schools.
“This call comes amidst observations that schools are understaffed as a result of the ban on employment of teachers imposed by the government in the recent past. Resultantly, schools have been operating without the required staff compliments, and in some cases, teachers’ workload was increased. However, the most undesirable effect of all this has been the huge class sizes, which has resulted in overcrowded classrooms.
“In the wake of the COVID 19 Pandemic, overcrowded classrooms will not work, therefore the need to employ more qualified teachers in order to ensure that smaller groups of learners may continue to benefit from the delivery of quality public education.”
The union also bemoaned the class teacher: pupil ratio which they said is unsustainable.
“On average several public schools around the country were operating with a ratio of one teacher to sixty learners, (1:60). Because this is unsustainable for the provision of quality public education and more importantly for the effecting of social distances in schools, the situation will have to change. Ideal situations would require that teacher to pupil ratios are adjusted to (1: 35) in primary schools whereas in secondary schools, the ratios would have to be adjusted to one teacher for twenty learners, (1:20).
“Consequently adjusting to these levels will require that Government of Zimbabwe, who is the major guarantor of quality public education for all, must as a matter of urgency employ more qualified teachers to improve staffing levels especially in the public schools.
According to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), there are at least 130 000 qualified teachers, currently operating in Zimbabwe. At least 4.5 million learners are found in more than 900 Primary and Secondary Schools countrywide.” ZIMTA said.
The association also said, “Increased funding in the education sector will also save to ensure that personal protective equipment (PPE) is provided during the COVID 19 pandemic period, for all without limitations.”
The situation in public schools is bad and with the new curriculum being implemented, ill equiped teachers are overburdened.