By Leopold Munhende
ATLEAST 25 percent of Zimbabwean children of school going age are out of the classroom because of continued shortage of teachers, disability and other related socio-economic factors.
This was revealed by Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu in an exclusive interview this week with NewZimbabwe.com.
“Our current estimates are that about 25 percent of children are not in school and those children with special learning difficulties and learning disabilities, physical or otherwise, are still finding it difficult to be included in education.
“Children from poor communities are still not finding it easy to be included in education in terms of access to quality public education by ensuring that at least they have a qualified teacher in front of them. That is not there,” Ndlovu said.
He added, “From 2013 until now, we have churned out close to about 18 000 teachers who are jobless.
“If we continue to do so, we should be able to get enough teachers as long as we absorb them because the colleges are bringing them out.
“If we cannot absorb them then into the system, obviously we will continue to have shortage of teachers then that is where the children from poor communities will not have access.”
Ndlovu maintained that there was no way the teacher to pupil ratio could be improved without recruitment and competitive remuneration for educators.
“The agreed ratio is 1:20 for ECD classes as we realised that four-year-olds have too much energy, 1:35 for primary, 1:25/30 for secondary and 1:20 for advanced level.
“The poorer communities are the ones which always suffer as teachers will not hesitate leaving a far flung school, poorly resourced school with poor remuneration hence they constitute the greater part of the 25 percent.”
Until 2016, UNICEF has been involved in the expansion of access to primary and secondary education focusing on disadvantaged social groups.
Although the UN programme was regarded as being successful, it maintained that more still needed to be done for basic education to be universal by 2030.
Government has been threatening to employ more teachers each time educators threaten to go on industrial action.