THE Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has blamed the 5% drop in the pass rate in the 2019 Grade 7 final examinations on the economic crisis, amid revelations that learners were attending school on empty stomachs, among other challenges.
According to the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec), there has been a 5,18% drop in the pass rate from 52,08% for the 2018 candidates against 46,9% registered by learners who wrote the 2019 examinations.
The Artuz also argued that low morale among teachers, who have pleaded incapacitation over low salaries against ever rising cost of goods, cannot be ruled out, with the association adding “it’s not business as usual in schools”.
The education sector has not been spared the harsh economic climate bedevilling the country.
Government faces accusations of throwing millions of citizens into abject poverty as a result of the “austerity for prosperity” economic policies that President Emmerson Mnangagwa has recommended as necessary to fix the economy.
“There are a number of factors contributing to the emerging pass rate trends, such as the national socio-economic crisis, teachers’ incapacitation and the deficiency of preliminary learning resources. Austerity measures have resulted in a significant fraction of Zimbabwean learners attending school without exercise books, textbooks and proper school uniforms, not mentioning their empty stomachs,” Artuz president Obert Masaraure said in a statement.
“The situation automatically affects learners psychologically, which in turn negatively affects learning. On another note, the learners are being taught by incapacitated teachers who are totally against the austerity measures.”
A number of teachers’ unions declared incapacitation, with ARTUZ members embarking on an indefinite industrial action.
“It’s not business as usual in schools, the education system is susceptible to a decline in standards being fuelled by austerity measures,” Masaraure said.
On Monday, Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema admitted that the poor welfare of teachers was contributing to a decline in education standards. Mathema made the remarks during his ministry’s 2020 strategic workshop held in Bulawayo.
“It’s so embarrassing to see teachers going to fetch water from Gwayi River (and carrying the water) on their heads in the morning before they go to school and expect them to perform according to the plans that we have seen here. I think it’s unfair. Without good teachers, without teachers who enjoy their jobs we are just playing,” Mathema said.