GRADE Zero pupils in Mahole, Filabusi in Matabeleland South use an old beer garden as a classroom which villagers have condemned as not conducive to proper learning as well as a health and safety hazard.
While it is the widespread belief that a good teacher can teach anywhere, research has shown that there is a direct relation between the condition and utility of the school facility and learning.
The classroom is the most important area within a school since it is where students spend most of their time and a villager Sithabile Khumalo said it should, therefore, provide an environment conducive to learning.
“Grade Zero is the foundation of every child’s formal education and learning in the classroom requires a reasonable level of concentration, listening, writing and reading so our kids need the best facilities at this entry level and not some disused beer outlet like what they are using as a classroom here in Mahole,” said Khumalo.
“Pupils are currently using an old beer garden premise as their class,” said a resident Sithabile Khumalo.
“This was after parents’ suggestions for the pupils to use the Mahole Community Hall failed to yield any fruits and the only option was to use a dysfunctional beer garden as a classroom, but we feel such a place is not good for children to learn in.”
Khumalo said although villagers appreciated that the country was going through a difficult period economically, allowing children to experience formal education in a beer garden would affect them through the different stages of their education and continue to contribute to the poor pass rate in the province.
“The physical condition and design of facilities shape a child’s learning experience and the most disturbing part about this beer hall classroom is that our children don’t know that they are being wronged.
“They will grow up thinking that this is the set standard and this will continue to perpetuate the negative impact on our children’s education,” Khumalo said.
She said when a Grade Zero class was first mooted, it was suggested that they use the community hall as a classroom, but that was not possible because the hall has stocks of fertiliser meant for distribution to communal farmers.
She said the fertiliser was meant to be distributed by the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) as part of isiphala senkosi, but has remained stored in the community hall in what villagers believed was as a result of corruption.
She accused the GMB area boss of working in cahoots with some Zanu PF councillors to abuse the government facility and said villagers suspected that the officials were secretly selling the fertiliser for their own personal gain.
It was a mystery why fertiliser had not been distributed when the province was experiencing one of its best rainy seasons in several years and Khumalo said villagers wanted the issue investigated.
“It is unfair for children to learn in a beer outlet yet the hall houses farming implements and fertiliser which should have long been distributed to villagers,” Khumalo said.
Learning is influenced most directly by classroom conditions and learners are more likely to prosper when their environment is conducive to learning, but unfortunately most Matabeleland South schools are either in a dilapidated state resulting in most good teachers shunning the province.
Six Gwanda district primary schools, Gobadema, Glass Block 2, Ngoma, Matshetsheni, Tshongwe and Zelezele, recorded a 0% pass rate in the 2013 Grade Seven examinations although officials said that was a reduction from 16 schools in 2012.
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