Teacher incentives negate student performance

‘A’ Level results released on Monday made very interesting reading, especially when the top 100 were considered.

Mission schools would seem to have performed very well. Rural schools produced healthy results, but urban schools fared badly.

Bulawayo and Matabeleland did not have a school in the top 10.

The highest ranked school for Matabeleland was Tongwe Government Secondary School at 16 followed by Zezani Secondary at 18. The traditional high scorers Mzingwane and Matopo were not on the top radar, while Thekwani sat way down at 191.

The last three schools in the past produced top civil servants and politicians, including some famous officials currently in the president’s office.

Interestingly, the bad-performing urban schools are famous for screaming to maintain teacher incentives where tutors are given money and are continuously paid in kind for teaching at school, in holiday crash programmes and at their homes over weekends. Hefty incentives given to teachers would seem to have destroyed urban education.

Given the availability of computers in urban schools and the use of advanced information technology in private schools and colleges, there is no direct translation of that advantage into good results.

Rural schools which bear the brunt of everything negative in the Zimbabwean economy have done well. There is progress in adversity and achievement in the dark and beaten environment of backward rural Matabeleland.

Are we likely to accept the poor results at ‘A’ level and blame extended power cuts in urban areas or are we once again going to blame teacher brain drain for deteriorating results?

Maybe there were no examination paper leakages for ‘A’ Levels in urban areas and students did not have that advantage, but there might be a serious need to examine the entire education system in Zimbabwe and determine the matter of teacher incentives and other conditions of service in the teaching sector.

Reports of teachers going for tea and not returning to the classroom after 10.30am are widespread with teachers indicating that the government pays does not cover a full day’s teaching.

Go-slows occur in most classrooms and the marking of homework pieces is placed on students themselves – a case of the blind leading the blind. Many a teacher sells sweets and chips to learners and spends more time devising strategies of making money within and outside the classroom.

The Zimbabwean classroom is suddenly a place where the teacher would not be if there was no obama (US dollar) to make. Will any Zimbabwean be happy with the present trend in schools?

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