In 2011, the Ministry of Education reported that 19 schools had recorded a 0% pass rate after sitting for their public examinations. The worst affected were rural schools where the majority had recorded zero
percent pass rate in Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) Grade Seven examination results. The overall pass rate ranged between zero to nine percent pass rate.
It is very difficult to imagine that in a group of pupils sitting for grade 7 Zimsec exams, the outcome produces a 100% failure or perhaps you would rather have me say a 0% pass rate? This is serious in the sense that it is unbelievable to imagine that a whole community has failures at grade 7 continuously for years. What it means is that a whole generation has been condemned to failure and this has repercussions for the community.
I was interested in finding out why a school failed to get at least one pupil who passed national examinations and the discoveries I made were fascinating. Yes communities may be disadvantaged in terms of resources. However one of the key areas has been addressed-thanks to the donation of text books by UNICEF in conjunction with the Education Ministry. The books however, continue to be condemned by certain people with an agenda that is meant to discredit anything that is perceived to be “Western”. Surely textbooks as a resource in schools are important whether they come from the United Kingdom government just as computers are necessary even if they are a Chinese donation. (But that is something for another time.)
In my investigation I discovered that certain communities do not attract nor retain qualified teachers. There is always a high staff turn-over, with political violence as the major factor influencing these movements. As a result, schools in these affected areas are manned by untrained teachers whose contracts expire after every term, with new teachers coming in and continuing with the same pupils in a business-as-usual fashion. This is very disruptive for children and because the teachers are engaged for a short while, they do not take time to understand each child and give them special attention they need.
A friend of mine who studied child psychology explained that the mind of a child is very delicate, hence the violence witnessed by children in 2008 may manifest later in the years. For example disruptions at grade 2 level can manifest at grade 7 and therefore it is very possible to get a 0% pass rate. It is fact that most of the violence took place in rural communities and it is no surprise that rural schools have the highest levels of failure rates. I do not want to under play other factors contributing to this failure but political violence remains a key factor.
Political interference in the running of schools is also rife with some reports indicating that teachers in the Mashonaland provinces have been openly told to look for employment elsewhere because the local leadership viewed them as undesirable elements. Surely any trained teacher would not want to go to such areas where schools are run by politicians who know nothing about education. The repercussions fall upon the communities as they face a future with a whole generation cursed because of the ‘sins’ of their fathers. We seriously need to defend our pride as the most literate country on the continent and situations such as the one we face now where communities are disempowered and other grade 7 candidates can’t write their own names should become a thing of the past.