BY Brenna Matendere

Matebeleland North province is experiencing an acute shortage of teachers amid revelations that qualified educators were shunning the area due to the poor living conditions prevailing in most of the institutions.

In a survey carried by Southern Eye this week, primary schools were the most affected.

Majankila Primary School in Bubi was said to be operating with only three teachers.

The other schools that are also worst affected by the teacher crisis include Thuthukani Primary School also in Bubi as well as Chibuya Primary School in Binga where the teachers use makeshift classrooms and live in dilapidated grass-thatched huts.

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Esphikeni, Bubi and Pedelis Valley primary schools are also facing staffing challenges.

In all the schools, learning materials like textbooks are inadequate, while proper classroom blocks are non-existent.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure bemoaned the staus quo in the province and called for urgent intervention.

“Matabeleland North region is suffering from extreme marginalisation. The teachers live in makeshift housing and teach multiple grades. Majority of lessons are conducted either in makeshift structures or under trees. The schools are inaccessible and there are serious telecommunication challenges in the region,” he said.

Masaraure added that the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goal number four, which emphasises on inclusive access to quality education will remain a pipe dream if
government fails to address the crisis.

Matabeleland North provincial education director Jabulani Mpofu was unreachable for comment, but in January he promised to deal with all the problems affecting schools in the province’s remote areas.

Masaraure highlighted the effects of the existing crisis on young learners.

“Learners at primary school require strict monitoring from the teacher. Forcing one teacher to teach multiple grades reduces the time they spend with individual learners and learning time is reduced as well. This results in kids losing trust of the learning process at an early age. Dropping out of school for such kids becomes inevitable,”
Masaraure said.

Most of the secondary and primary schools in the region record less than 30% pass rates for Grade 7 and Ordinary-Level classes.