Even though they are not at all unusual it seems the Zimbabwean government is suddenly concerned about the low pass rate at Grade 7. The government instead of taking responsibility for wrecking the sector with poor economic measures and not paying teachers enough has instead chosen to blame teacher indiscipline and sanctions. The last is their favourite catch-all excuse when they want to abrogate themselves of any responsibility.
One region that has suffered recently was Matabeleland North where there has been little government investment in education. The region had eight schools that had a pass rate of 0% which literary means none of the students in these schools passed. The overall pass rate in the region also fell from a sad 25% in 2019 to a dismal 15.9%. Lupane district is in this area and Lupane State University decided to do a survey and made some rather shocking revelations:
- Majority of Grade 7 pupils in Lupane can’t read properly
- Red squareMajority of Grade 7 learners read at Grade 4 level
- Red square10% read at Grade 2 & 3 level
- Red square10% read at Grade 7 level
- Red squareMost schools in Lupane recorded a 0% pass rate
What’s the government doing
The current COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the government’s inadequate ICT strategy which has fallen from it’s GNU status. A lot of schools received computers and had internet installed. Not only has progress stalled on this front but a lot of the donated equipment was neglected due to powercuts and sheer incompetence. A lot of ZIMPOST outlets have functional computers that have not been powered on in years. Students in these regions have no way to learn as schools were closed for the bulk of the time last year with pupils only learning during Term 1.
Not only that these students are at a disadvantage anyway. They often don’t have any access to books and are often without teachers. The lockdown has just worsened an already existing problem.