Sunday, 1 March 2020

SCHOOLS CAN BOOST ECONOMY, SAYS MINISTER


SCHOOLS should be turned into Special Economic Zones as they have unlocked commercial value that can transform the education sector, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema has said.

A Special Economic Zone is an area in a country that is subject to unique economic regulations to attract investment.

Addressing district schools’ managers from the northern part of the country who had come for a week long training on modern ways of managing schools, at Ilangeni Training Centre in Bulawayo last Friday, Minister Mathema said Government pins a lot of hope on the education sector to transform the country’s fortunes.

“The President has introduced a new concept of dialogue. No school can succeed without working with the parents and Member of Parliament (MP). The Ministry, the country and the President have invested their trust in you, so let us deliver. By endeavouring to equip you with 21st century school leadership skills we want you to drive this economy through quality education using the competence-based curriculum,” he said,

“My wish would be to see each school engaging in commercial farming, commercial manufacturing. So, let us lead them, let us assist them and work with them. Each school must be a Special Economic Zone.”

Minister Mathema said to achieve the economic transformation of schools, he has asked all schools to provide a report on the size of land they occupy.

The Minister said after gathering the necessary statistics it would then be established how the land can be utilised for commercial purposes. He said turning schools into commercial entities will change the face of some learning institutions, which have been dilapidated for years. 

“We have schools with no laboratories, no classroom blocks, they have no teachers’ cottages. How can we have teachers who share a house, 20 of them in one house? It’s embarrassing. We have had satellite schools since independence. Let’s turn them into proper schools,” he said.

Minister Mathema said Government can even engage local authorities to provide adequate land to some schools that might not have it.

He said the Bulawayo City Council is warming up to allocating Mpopoma High School a piece of land for commercial purposes as the school does not have adequate space on its premises. Speaking during the same event, Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela said the Minister was putting the education sector’s vision back on track.

“You know one time we were talking about running the school as a business. We were training school development committees. Somehow the traction got lost. The Minister is saying let us go back to that concept that the school is a Special Economic Zone. It’s a business in more ways than just wealth creation. It’s a business because that is where your social investment is being done, your human capital is being created, social skills are being created,” said Mrs Thabela.

She said teachers have an important role of promoting value addition through education. Chronicle

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