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Understaffed schools have just the headmaster teaching Grades 1 to 7; Govt defends exporting Zim teachers to Rwanda

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By Anna Chibamu

PRIMARY and Education Parliamentary Portfolio Committee members Thursday condemned government ‘s move to send Zimbabwean teachers to Rwanda for employment whilst most schools in Matabeleland region were short-staffed, amid reports at some institutions only headmasters were available to teach all grades.

This came out during an oral hearing held at Parliament as Public Service and Education ministry top officials gave recruitment and deployment information to the panel.

MPs, mostly from the Matabeleland North and South regions, fumed over lack of tutors in their constituencies whilst government, in a bid to avoid a bloated salary bill, opted to dispatch critical qualified teachers, numbering over 500, to Rwanda.

Public Service Permanent Secretary, Simon Masanga told the committee that officials from Rwanda jetted into the country this week and online interviews were taking place for local expatriates’ recruitment, and subsequent deployment to Rwanda.

Currently, Zimbabwe has 14 000 teachers qualified in various disciplines, who are still unemployed following completion of their training.

“As government, we have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rwanda, which is very specific and we are currently carrying out interviews online and we have teams in Masvingo, Gweru, Bulawayo, Harare and Mash West, Chinhoyi,” Masanga told the committee in his submissions.

“I would want to dismiss the assertion that these teachers are running away from working for the Zimbabwe or going there for greener pastures. This is not the case. This is not unique to Zimbabwe. The recruitment will not compromise our local standards.

“We are just sharing skills with our sister country (Rwanda) where we lose nothing. Rwanda is not just focusing on teachers, but a wide range of sectors.”

The permanent secretary’s explanation did not go down well with MPs, whose constituencies where struggling without teachers yet thousands are loafing at home unemployed.

Zanu PF Nkayi South MP, Stars Mathe fumed saying it was regrettable government was exporting critical labour at a time some schools had only the headmaster and one teacher running the show, struggling to manage classes from Grade One to Seven.

“As Parliament, we have visited schools around the country. Some people were trained as early as 2017 and are prepared to teach in Matabeleland province. Their names have been submitted to the districts for deployment, but nothing has materialized,” Mathe said.

“I am prepared to give evidence of a school in Matabeleland province where a school by the name Nkataza Primary has only two employees, the headmaster and a teacher, teaching classes from ECD to grade seven. How does the headmaster manage this?

“How can a good pass rate be attained? Go to Hwange, Binga, Lupane and in some of these districts, there is only one teacher. This is painful. Fingers are being pointed at us leaders as failures. Government is blamed for failures in the ministry. Do the officials in the ministry go down on the ground to assess this situation? I am not happy with this.” Mathe said.

Another member alleged corruption in the recruitment process where trained and graduate teachers were not employed years after completing training.

Masanga admitted the “awkward” arrangement between Zimbabwe and Rwanda was compromising educational standards in the country, before pledging his ministry’s efforts to redress under-staffing in rural schools.