Farm Schools Record 0% Grade Seven Pass Rate
Concerns have been raised by various stakeholders regarding the dismal performance of certain satellite farm schools, a consequence of the 2000 land reform program in Zimbabwe.
Expressing unease, stakeholders highlight that some of these schools recorded a zero pass rate in the recently released 2023 Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) Grade Seven examinations.
In the Hurungwe district of Mashonaland West province, 10 out of 174 schools reported a 0% pass rate in this year’s Grade 7 examinations.
The affected satellite schools, including Tashinga, Davare, Nevern, Makwiye, Mupuse, Kilrea, St Michaels, Hilltop, and Kemapondo, are predominantly located in resettlement areas and grapple with infrastructural development challenges. Notably, Badze is an established rural school within this cluster.
A senior education official, speaking on condition of anonymity, attributed the poor performance to neglect by authorities, particularly in farming communities. The official outlined challenges such as poor road networks, limited mobile accessibility, inadequate accommodation, water and sanitation issues, and a lack of electricity in most schools. Additionally, the reluctance of trained teachers to accept postings in these schools and the perpetually low morale were cited as contributing factors.
Political factors were also brought into the spotlight by concerned education officials, who noted alleged political intolerance directed at teachers deployed to these schools. They emphasized the challenging professional environment created by a tense political atmosphere around farming areas.
Obert Masaraure, the president of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, expressed his concerns about the marginalized cluster known as P3, attributing their consistently poor results to underfunding and general marginalization. Masaraure advocated for the urgent implementation of the Nziramasanga Commission’s recommendation for an education equalization fund, emphasizing the need for a specific fund to address the infrastructure deficit.
Highlighting the 1999 Nziramasanga Commission recommendations, which included a nine-year compulsory basic education cycle, Masaraure asserted that it is impossible to bridge the infrastructure gap with the current national budget. He called for the establishment of a dedicated fund to address the pressing issues faced by these schools.
Masaraure further criticized the education system’s discrimination against the poor, citing the burden placed on parents to purchase learning and teaching materials. He urged the government to fulfill its constitutional mandate to fund basic education and create a funding model promoting inclusiveness.
In response to the concerns raised, Zimsec spokesperson Nicky Dhlamini refuted the notion of rating schools at the district or provincial level. Despite the criticism, Zimsec reported an overall improvement in the pass rate, with this year’s Grade Seven examinations achieving a 45.7% pass rate, up from 40.7% in the previous year. Dhlamini also noted that girls outperformed their male counterparts in the examinations.