PARENTS HIT WITH NEW SCHOOL LEVY

THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education will next year introduce a building levy on all schoolchildren in a bid to raise funds for the construction of houses for teachers, a move that will be received with joy by educators but will likely be frowned upon by parents. In a wide-ranging interview in Bulawayo recently, Dr Lazaras Dokora, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, said although the education sector needed more than 2 000 new schools, Government would start with the construction of teachers’ houses in both rural and urban areas next year.

“We have a huge deficit of infrastructure in the country for schools and that infrastructure begins with teachers’ housing and then we look at classrooms. In 2013, we produced an analysis which we submitted to Cabinet to say 2 056 schools needed to be constructed but each time when we say schools — whether urban or rural — we must include school teachers’ houses. We must engage with municipalities so that they set aside stands where we can build teachers’ houses. We don’t want to fail to transfer a teacher or teachers because of lack of accommodation, because then we will be failing to focus on the mandate of the ministry. We will simply be saying there is no housing hence you have to do with the History teacher teaching Mathematics. This is a disconnect we are correcting as a ministry,” Dr Dokora said.

The Minister said the deficit in infrastructure had led the ministry to lobby Cabinet to give it authority to engage in joint venture partnerships with the private sector.
“As you know, we flighted the expression of interest documents in the Press last month and we are talking to those who responded. After we are satisfied that we have exhausted the short-list then we prepare a document for the tendering and then we will go back to Cabinet and get the authority to sign them on,” he said.


The Primary and Secondary Education Ministry projects $120 million will be raised yearly by levying the four million pupils at learning institutions countrywide, although authorities are yet to determine the sum each pupil will contribute.

The money will repay building loans while addressing Zimbabwe’s 2056-school deficit. Construction will be on a build-operate-transfer arrangement, with Government collecting a percentage of school development levies.

The number of schools almost doubled between 1980 and 1985 — from 2 401 to 4 324 — and primary school enrolment reached 2 460 323 in 2001. Secondary school enrolment leapt from 66 215 at independence to over 800 000 by 1999. As of 2013, Zimbabwe had 8 149 public primary and secondary schools.

Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga, an educationist who headed the 1999 Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training, said decent housing will make teachers gain respect in the communities they serve.

“It is absolutely necessary for Government to provide decent and modern accommodation fit for the 21st century, especially in rural areas. Teachers need to be respected because the teaching profession is a noble one. Teachers cannot be respected if they come from shacks. A good house with decent lighting can enable the teacher to plan better for the next day’s work, and they can do it comfortably in a house.”

Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said by building houses for teachers, Government will retain qualified teachers, especially in rural areas.
“This idea is important as qualified teachers will be retained especially in rural areas which have been previously shunned. There cannot be schools without


 

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