PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has come under fire from teachers’ unions for reportedly “resorting to military tactics” in dealing with educators.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said Dokora had threatened to fire school heads who were not delivering quality results.
“The idea of threats, attacks, blunders and orders is not synonymous with education. It is found in the military and Dokora wants to bring this into the education sector. We will not accept it. Teachers are working under atrocious conditions with children suffering, especially this winter and we have a minister who is preoccupied with sabre-rattling,” Majongwe told NewsDay.
Recently, Dokora issued a stark warning to non-performers and teachers with little appreciation of the new curriculum. Majongwe’s sentiments were echoed by Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union spokesperson Tapson Nganunu-Sibanda, who urged a sober approach to issues affecting education.
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers’ Union leader Obert Masaraure was more scathing in his response to Dokora.
“Rule by force is the preserve of the inept who have no skills to motivate their subordinates boldly towards goal attainment. Dokora has monumentally failed and is tragically transforming our education system into a circus,” Masaraure said. “The only person who should be fired for incompetence is Dokora because the same teachers he is accusing of failing performed well under successive ministers before him.”
ABOUT 16 000 trained teachers are jobless, with universities and colleges unloading 2 000 more every year, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has said.
Government, at the beginning of this term, set a target of recruiting 2 300 teachers, but nothing has happened yet.
Dokora blamed what he described as “incoherence” between the Finance and Public Service ministries for the hold-up in recruitment.
“I needed 7 000 teachers last year, but by the decision of the Cabinet, I was told that I was going to get 2 300 teachers,” he told Kwekwe school headmasters and school development committee (SDC) chairpersons last week at Loreto High School.
“We are still waiting for the clearance from the Public Service. The challenge is that there is an incoherence between Public Service and the Finance ministries.” Dokora said the recruitment of teachers is going to be based on specialised areas to push the new curriculum.
All primary school learners will now benefit from the National Schools Feeding Programme on the back of improved grain and cereal output from summer cropping.
Initially, the programme only targeted 1, 5 million early childhood learners and Grades 1 and 2 pupils, but now includes Grades 3 to 7. The multi-million-dollar initiative aims to improve nutrition and avert school drop-outs occasioned by hunger.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora told The Sunday Mail, “We have expanded the National Schools Feeding Programme; so every child at primary education level is now being taken care of under the scheme. Every child will be on the scheme by January 2018. “Ongoing borehole drilling and setting up of drip irrigation schemes at every secondary school will ensure learning institutions will not outsource products used for the programme.”
THE Government is set to launch an education television channel in line with the new education curriculum.
This comes as the country is implementing the digitalisation programme which we see an increase in the number of television stations countrywide.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Dr Lazarus Dokora last Friday said the channel will be a platform to tell the Zimbabwean story. Dr Dokora said his Ministry was ready to support content producers.
He said presently children were being bombarded with television content with storylines that they cannot relate to.
He said already there are publishers who are ready to take up the challenge to create content that takes into account the country’s heritage. Dr Dokora said some people were still suffering from an inferiority complex and do not believe that local publishers can tell the local narrative.
THE Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Lazarus Dokora has said his Ministry will wield the axe on headmasters whose schools have recorded zero percent pass rates in public examinations.
In an interview on the side-lines of the commissioning of a Form Three classroom block and the donation of 22 000 books worth $10 000 to Sarah Bata Senior School in Gweru yesterday, Dr Dokora said Government does not employ people to underperform.
The Minister also said those who have been abusing school funds would be dealt with.
Dr Dokora said headmasters involved in maladministration and embezzlement of school funds also risk being fired.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora continues to divide opinion. Considered a reformer on one side of the aisle, he is also seen – in almost equal measure – as an inept public official with a flair for controversy and the unconventional by his critics.
His recent explanation that hard-pressed parents can use livestock or labour in lieu of school fees has sent tongues wagging. A qualified communications expert, Dr Dokora has been caricatured as “Dr Dofora” by some, and hailed as a burst of positive energy by others.
On the issue of livestock and school fees, he told The Sunday Mail: “We are creating markets for our people so that they can sell whatever they have without prejudice. “The items they can sell range from tomatoes, chicken, goats and other livestock.
“We are actually talking to my Rural Development counterpart, Minister Abednigo Ncube, to ensure rural district councils play a leading role to attract buyers.
“These are the public-private partnerships that we are talking about. All those women who go to Harare or Bindura are looking for markets to sell their produce in order to raise their children’s tuition fees. “So, we are giving them the markets wherever they are.
“Most of the people who are criticising this noble initiative do not even have a chicken!” Innovations such as new learning areas, foreign languages, life orientation skills and continuous assessment for pupils are widely viewed as game-changers in a country whose education system has been described in some circles as “advanced, but too academic”.
While the jury is still out on Dr Dokora’s performance, Zimbabwe will have an entirely new education system come 2021.
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