AUDITOR-GENERAL Mildred Chiri has slammed the Primary and Secondary Education ministry’s inefficiency, which has seen unregistered schools running classes in backyard garages and beerhalls.
Chiri said this in her 2020 audit report on the registration, supervision and monitoring of schools and independent colleges by the ministry which was tabled in the National Assembly on Tuesday by Finance minister Mthuli Ncube.
The report blamed failure by the ministry, headed by Cain Mathema, to craft good education policies to curb the proliferation of illegal schools across the country, where children are said to be taking classes in inappropriate structures and places.
“From the findings which came out through this audit, I concluded that the ministry is inefficient and ineffective as regards to registration, monitoring and inspection of schools.
“As a result of these delays, there was sprouting of unregistered schools and colleges operating from unsuitable premises such as backyards and garages,” Chiri’s audit report read.
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“The ministry was not properly registering, monitoring and supervising schools and colleges. I was mainly concerned with one particular school in Bindura district, where pupils were learning from disused beerhalls.
“One disused beerhall at Chiwaridzo Extension suburb (in Bindura) had 11 classes with a total of 454 pupils, while the other one at cocktail bar had three early child development classes with a total of 177 pupils.”
The report also exposed that the environment in some of the classes was not conducive for learning as some of the classes had inadequate windows and ventilation to provide light, rendering learners vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Unregistered schools will continue to crop up since there are no deterrent measures taken. Bureaucracy in the registration process can create good grounds for corruption,” she said.
Chiri blamed the poor pass rate at schools to the response by government in dealing with the issues raised in her audit report.
In 2020, Grade 7 examination results revealed that 88 schools, mostly in the rural areas, recorded a 0% pass.
Most of the affected schools were in the Matabeleland region, and educational analysts blamed poor infrastructure, lack of resources, and the continued strike by teachers over low salaries, for the high failure rates.
The report also exposed a severe shortage of teachers in schools as a result of government policy to freeze on recruitment.
“If not addressed, these inefficiencies will continue to affect the quality of education in Zimbabwe, hence Sustainable Development Goal Number 4 on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all will not be achieved,” Chiri said.
“While independent colleges have come in to fill the gap that is there in terms of the number of schools, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has not played its role to ensure that the quality of service offered is up to standard. Thus, the quality of education is compromised.”