Wednesday, 10 February 2021

CHARAMBA, UNIONS LOCK HORNS OVER POOR GRADE 7 RESULTS

TEMPERS flared this week over the poor 2020 Grade 7 results with teachers’ unions and Presidential spokesperson George Charamba blaming each other for the below par performance.

Charamba said better results would have been achieved if the majority of teachers were dedicated to duty.

He labelled some teachers’ union leaders “criminals” bent on tarnishing government’s image instead of promoting development of the education sector.

His remarks came after the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) and the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) heaped the blame on government, accusing it of neglecting basic school infrastructure and denying rural schools access to e-learning facilities.

They posted pictures of classroom blocks made of poll and dagga and said government should not expect pupils to produce good results under such an environment.

A total of 88 schools, mostly in the rural areas recorded a 0% pass rate, which resulted in some teachers’ unions attributing the high failure rate to government’s neglect of rural schools.

Most of the schools that registered a 0% pass rate are in the Matabeleland region. Their metropolitan counterparts resorted to online lessons during the lockdown period, and fared better.

Charamba dismissed claims that the absence of proper infrastructure contributed to the poor pass rate.

“One lie which errant unions in the education sector are selling to us is a causal link between schools infrastructure and pupil performance. This is a blue lie.

Some rural schools with good infrastructure delivered very bad results, thanks to their desultory teachers,” he tweeted.

“Others with modest infrastructure delivered some of the best results, thanks to their dedicated staff. Tell no lies Artuz, PTUZ. You are criminals!”

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe could not take it lying down, challenging government to prove its allegations.

“If representing teachers and defending the interests of the poor is a crime, then surely we are criminals ready to be tried in a competent court of law. We are waiting for the trial date,” Majongwe sarcastically said in an interview with NewsDay.

In 2015, the Grade 7 pass rate was 38,3%, 2016 (42%), 2017 (44%), and in 2019, the pass rate dropped to 36,9% and it rose slightly to 37,11% in 2020.

Contacted for comment over the poor Grade 7 results, Primary and Secondary Education ministry secretary Tumisang Thabela referred questions to the ministry’s communications department, which, however, had not responded to questions from NewsDay.

Meanwhile, opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa attributed the poor pass rate to what he termed “a bad and irresponsible government”.

Said Chamisa: “It’s impossible to have good results from a bad and irresponsible government. Results are a reflection of input and support. We must address teachers’ conditions of service, have ‘SMART’ planning and funding. It’s a governance and leadership problem. We must fix

it!

“The Grade 7 results reflect a lack of support and investment to the education sector over time. It shows skewed priorities by the government which is robbing our future generations.” Newsday

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