Minister ropes in MPs in teacher recruitment drive

Zimbabwe’s education minister, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu, has appealed to Members of Parliament from communities that speak minority languages to encourage people to enrol at teacher training colleges amid a shortage of competent teachers to teach minority languages.

Her request comes after she stated training institutions are short of teachers who can teach in minority languages, stressing this issue was rampant in Matabeleland, as quite a number of teachers who were deployed there lacked the necessary Ndebele language competence.

The minister also expressed concern that people who could speak minority languages often pursued other qualifications or did not complete high school.

In some situations, Dr Ndlovu observed, teachers lied about their ability to instruct in a specific language, but when they were deployed to schools, they were unable to do so.

The minister said government policy was, “when a child is still young at ECD level up to Grade 3, the child must be taught in his or her mother tongue but we have a challenge of teachers from that region.”

“We have been advocating for more teachers to be trained from that particular region without success. Most of the children in that region opt for other qualifications.”

According to Dr Ndlovu, the majority of children do not finish school, instead “leave for South Africa or Botswana.”

“They do not finish their primary and secondary education. That is the biggest challenge that we have,” said the education minister.

“We have been in touch with the training colleges to investigate the shortage that is there and I am very disappointed that we have failed to get children into those colleges. I am very disappointed. We have failed to get volunteers even in my own constituency which is Bulilima.”

Dr Ndlovu stated she once volunteered to pay for a teacher but was informed that the individual did not want to be a teacher.

“She does not want to be an engineer but wants to be a nurse. So, we have got a problem as a country and in that particular region, we have got a problem of no recruitment into higher and tertiary education. That is a big challenge,” said the education minister highlighting that this was why there were low pass rates.

“Because a child understands a subject when he or she is taught in the mother tongue. We have a problem and I am appealing to Members of Parliament, those from where the minority languages are out of the 16 languages. We have got an appeal and we are appealing to you to assist us to make sure that we market the colleges that can train teachers for us.”

However, the education minister clarified her assertions were not confirmation that there was no unemployment of Ndebele primary school teachers.

“I do not think there are facts there. It is a talk that is very prevalent in our society. The truth must be told that we have got a screen in the office. Because of the ICT computers and software that we have, all the teachers who graduate register with the Ministry. After registration with the Ministry – we have transferred that register to the Public Service Commission which has got a register of all the teachers that have graduated. I am yet to be informed that there are Ndebele teachers that are available that have not been deployed,” she said.

“But on our screens, we are told that we do not have Ndebele teachers, we do not have Venda teachers, we do not have Kalanga, Sotho, Ndau and Tonga teachers. They are in short supply.”

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