THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has blamed the government for the low 2020 Grade Seven examination result pass rate.
The Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec) this week released the 2020 Grade Seven results with some 88 schools said to have recorded zero percent pass rate.
According to the national examination body, the 2020 national pass rate is 37,11 percent.
This represents a decrease of 9,79 percent from the 46,9 percent recorded in 2019.
Reacting to the shock outcome in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said the poor national pass rate was a result of government’s failure to prioritise teachers’ welfare, health and safety.
Zhou said due to Covid-19, students were ill-prepared to write the examinations because they did not cover much of the syllabus.
“The decline by 9.79% from 2019’s 46% is disastrous but not surprising. Fundamentally, students did not cover the syllabus as they only meaningfully learnt for one term in 2020.
“Government’s failure to prioritise teachers’ welfare, health and safety worsened the plight of students.
“The whole period from 2019 to 2020 was punctuated by teachers’ incapacitation which was further aggravated by government’s failure to provide Covid abatement equipment to schools that forced teachers to boycott opening of schools,” said Zhou.
The trade union leader also criticised government‘s radio lessons, saying they were ineffective as most areas in the country did not have radio frequency.
Zhou said the “television and radio lessons had no efficacy where more than 77% of pupils had no radio and television frequency”.
“The pupils in rural areas were therefore greatly affected with the consequent high failure rate,” he said.
In future, Zhou said, the government should engage all stakeholders in order to come up with lasting solutions.
“As a way forward, there is need for serious engagement by stakeholders particularly government, teachers and parents in order to find ways of motivating teachers to perform at their maximum.
“That must involve paying them a living wage.
“Government must also invest much in quality public education as the current 12.7% educational budget falls far short of the Dakar agreement of above 22%,” said Zhou.
He also called upon government to subsidise the price of data for teachers and students.
“Government needs to support class WhatsApp and subject WhatsApp platforms initiated by teachers in order to ensure that students can continue learning whilst they are at home.
“Such support can involve giving teachers bundles by government and allowing pupils to use parents’ phones.
“Government can also engage donors like UNICEF to provide pupils from poor backgrounds with appropriate learning gadgets,” Zhou said.