THE Second Republic has achieved huge strides towards ensuring universal access to education in the last five years as the Government paid school fees for up to 50 percent of the 4,6 million pupils in the country’s primary and secondary schools.
The Government has also established technical high schools, which will see pupils exiting secondary level with diplomas and undergoing trade tests in certain technical fields.
A total of 10 technical high schools have been established countrywide including Luveve High School in Bulawayo, which will now teach aviation studies while Mzingwane High School will be a centre for metal technology. In Matabeleland North, Hwange High School will offer textile technology and design and each of the country’s provinces has one of the model schools.
The establishment of technical vocational learning institutions is expected to revolutionalise the country’s education system, where skills are imparted on pupils as opposed to the memorization of topics as was the case. The Government has also built new schools and classroom blocks as part of efforts to bring education closer to communities.
Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo said in line with President Mnangagwa’s philosophy of ‘leaving no one and no place behind’, the Government has made serious inroads towards State-funded education.
“Initially we used to have 300 000 benefitting from Basic Education Assistance Model (BEAM) but as for now 1,8 million pupils out of a population of 4,6 million pupils in the whole country,” he said in an interview.
“We also have two districts per province who are having State-funded free education in the whole country and in the case of Matabeleland South we have Beitbridge and Mangwe districts,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
“If you look at the districts that are benefitting on that effort and the children that are under BEAM, that is huge. We have over 2 million children out of 4,6 million having fees paid for by the Government.
“So, in terms of access we have reduced barriers, even candidates who do not have money to pay examination fees, the Government pays and no candidate fails to write examinations on the account of failure to raise examination fees.”
The Deputy Minister said amendments to the Education Act, which allows girls to remain in school even after falling pregnant, has broken barriers to access to education as it providing them with a second chance.
He also said infrastructure development projects among other programmes under implementation would be successfully implemented if President Mnangagwa is given a second chance to govern.
“The Second Republic has scored a lot of successes and if we were moving at this pace since independence we would be very far. Given the accelerated development in education, I think it is important that we vote in the Second Republic again in this election,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
“We have begun to see the fruits of our independence. We have begun to see free access to education. Although people still pay, they are not penalised for not paying, and the Government does pay.
“So, we have seen accelerated infrastructural development in the education sector. We have seen the development of technical schools so that we can vocationalise our education system. We are laying the foundation for Education 5.0. The philosophy of science, technology and innovation in education can only continue under the Second Republic.”
Deputy Minister Moyo said the Government in partnership with the private sector was constructing new schools to address the deficit of learning institutions.
“We sought private partners who also built private schools, some of them built public schools, some of them partnered with Government to build schools. Of great note are the 17 OPHIRD schools, those are the state-of-the-art schools that are a flagship in education,” he said.
“So, we want to applaud President Mnangagwa for the support and initiatives that was given to us as a ministry.”
The Deputy Minister said the establishment of technical vocational schools was in sync with the country’s philosophy of developing the country through knowledge.
He said previously learners were only evaluated through what they can memorise but the competence-based education now demands pupils to remember and apply.
“The other achievements were observed in the curriculum development. There has been a big shift from the old curriculum where our children were being taught to remember things and a new philosophy emerged during the Second Republic, which drove education and this philosophy is science, technology and innovation.
“The hallmark of education now is to do things rather than just remember things. That is a big paradigm shift,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
He said driving education through knowledge and skills has seen the establishment of technical vocational high schools.
“Two weeks back, there was a launch of technical high schools in the country and closer to us is Luveve High School, which is going to offer aviation studies. That is a landmark, we are also going to have other schools, we started with one per province in the country,” he said.
“Mzingwane High School is offering what we used to call metal technology and wood technology, the pillar will be metal technology.”
Deputy Minister Moyo said the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic was a bad experience that has benefitted the education sector as it resulted in diversified delivery of education content.
Following the emergence of Covid-19, Primary and Secondary Education Ministry strengthened distance learning programmes including radio and online which now complement face to face learning.
He said the pandemic contributed to improvement in sanitary issues in the education sector where most schools now have access to water.
“For example, the issue of provision of water in schools, we are about 80 percent provision of borehole in schools and where there is no borehole inside the school, it’s because we couldn’t find a suitable site. But there is a borehole that is attached to a school,” he said.