Sylvia Utete-Masango, Primary and Secondary Education ministry permanent secretary, expressed deep concern over poor literacy rates on her visit to St Joseph’s Mission Primary School last Wednesday to officially present the secretary’s merit award.
BY NONHLANHLA SIBANDA
St Joseph’s Mission Primary School is a Catholic institution with a lot of infrastructure not typical of a rural Zimbabwean school. It presents a neat and conducive environment.
The event was graced by educators from various schools within the district, Members of Parliament and other dignitaries such as Matabeleland South Provincial Education director Tumisang Thabela and MDC-T Senator for Mat South Sithembile Mlotshwa, parents and learners.
Utete-Masango said a lot of time was spent by learners at schools, but results at the end of each year were poor.
“We all need to acknowledge that learners invest a lot of time at school daily, throughout the whole week and this covers many years .That investment in time requires handsome returns and all of us working with learners must revisit our commitment and practices as individuals to see if there be any instances where we have shortchanged our learners,” she said.
“You are aware we have had Grade Seven classes that have achieved 0% after seven or nine years at school. How do we justify the time we spent with them? Heads, teachers and parents need to examine, at local level reasons for poor examination results and work as a team to find solutions for the benefit of learners,” she added.
Speaking to Southern Eye, Mlotshwa expressed concern over science subjects in the area.
“Out of 28 secondary schools in Matobo district only three schools have operational science subjects. We are performing badly where science is concerned. Statistics are pointing out that Matabeleland is failing to feed into National University of Science and Technology (Nust). Students at Nust come from other provinces. We cannot produce science students because the environment is not conducive, she said.
The award given meant that St Joseph’s Mission Primary School met most of the criteria outlined in the ministry’s school performance audit form. Four major areas were considered in rating the schools for the 2014 Secretary’s Merit Award; increasing infant education, provision for non-formal education, inclusive opportunities for learners with disability, broad school curriculum and examination results.
St Joseph’s broad school curriculum includes prevocational and technical subjects. It uses environmental awareness and management efforts in reclaiming gullies and making fire guards around the school. There is evidence of inclusivity in accommodating children with disabilities. The school offers visual arts, a vibrant choral group, marimba, traditional dance group and drum majorettes.
Michael Ndlovu school head said the school had over a long period (81 years) produced some of key personnel in the government and private sector. Presently, the school has not been producing good results because of prevailing negative conditions in the country.
The school received a plaque in lieu of the Secretary’s Bell and $5 000 in cash and won ahead of 540 schools in Matabeleland South.