THE Government is set to review school heads and teachers’ qualifications with a PhD being the most desirable qualification for a school head as it moves to ensure delivery of quality education in the country.
Teachers, on the other hand, have been encouraged to upgrade their qualifications so that they remain relevant to the demands of the ever advancing world and benefit from the manpower development leave that is set to be resuscitated. Although no specific timeframes have been set, Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Hon Torerayi Moyo said it was essential to ensure that those who deliver education were qualified enough and encouraged teachers to advance academically. Minister Moyo said this while addressing heads of primary and secondary schools, district schools inspectors and education officials at St Columbu’s High School in Bulawayo on Thursday.
“I want to encourage you to continuously upgrade yourselves, I started with a Diploma in Education but I had to continue aiming for self-actualisation stage. I see youthful faces among you who were lucky to be promoted and are headmasters. There will come a time when we will come up with a circular to say for you to become a headmaster of a high school you must have a PhD, and for you to become a teacher, teaching in our primary schools you must have a degree,” said Minister Moyo.
He said there was a time when teachers of Grade ones were holders of the Zimbabwe Junior Certificate and were later removed, and Ordinary Level certificate holders were allowed to teach early grades but they were also later removed.
“There will come a time when diploma holders will no longer be wanted, so why don’t you take this opportunity to take time to do your studies? The sky is the limit for each one of you to continue to aim higher,” he said.
He shared his experience as a beneficiary of manpower development leave and how he advanced his education.
“During the course of my profession as a teacher, I went on study leave to do an under-graduate degree. We need to resuscitate the manpower development leave so that our teachers will also be beneficiaries of that very important programme. For three years when I was studying for a Bachelor of Arts General in my first year and my Honours in my second year, I remember I was entitled to a salary for those three years, of course, it was reduced to half pay. I was also a beneficiary of pay-outs. When I did my Master of Arts, it was a full-time programme, I was also entitled to my salary. When I went to study for my PhD at Rhodes University in South Africa I was also on a full-time programme between 2015 and 2017, I was on full pay. At that time, I was already teaching at the University of Zimbabwe as a History lecturer,” said Minister Moyo.
Turning to the transfer of school heads, he said standing rules and orders highlight that when one was promoted to be a headmaster and assumes duty, they cannot transfer before they complete probation, but said it was an issue that he would want to support for those who were promoted to be allowed to transfer and assume duty elsewhere nearest to them.
On Continuous Assessment Learning Areas (CALAs), the minister said teachers were not adequately trained on how to administer the CALAs leading to challenges that the concept was met with.
“People made submissions on their expectations on CALA, but were the teachers trained on how they can carry out CALA assignments? We had to review the curriculum in its entirety. We may reduce the number of CALAs probably from 27 to two or one, but before we do that we want you the school heads to be trained on how CALA is conducted, then you train your teachers so that people appreciate CALA or we may decide to remove CALA and replace it with something else,” he said.
The minister said school heads have the responsibility to provide instructional leadership in schools and create an environment where teachers and learners thrive and achieve their full potential. He said the Government was concerned with the behaviour of some school heads who were ignoring instructions given through circulars by the ministry.
“As Government, we have said it is the responsibility of every parent and guardian to pay school fees and levies for their children and we are demanding that these be paid on time. A delay in the payment of school fees and levies means that operations at our schools will come to a halt, a standstill. Those children from underprivileged families have safety nets at their disposal. (But) it is illegal to turn away learners for non-payment of fees and levies. Schools should find ways of collecting that money. We have heard here that the fees collection rate at St Columbu’s is 89 percent, this is commendable,” he said.
He said failure to collect school fees also rests on the school’s administration.
“If you are a headmaster of a school, whether it is in an urban area, high-density area, or rural area, if parents are not paying school fees then there is a problem, emanating from a headmaster or School Development Committee chairman. Ensure that you hold regular meetings with parents, tell them the importance of paying school fees and show them projects that you want to do, they will be part and parcel of what you want to do. As the Government, we are not saying they must not pay, but we are saying they must pay on time. I visited Chireya High School where the collection rate of school fees was 75 percent when schools opened. They were showcasing projects that they were doing, a laboratory is under construction and everyone wants to be associated with good work happening at a school,” he said.
The minister said headmasters who continue to defy Government orders on school fees will be dealt with.
“I am here to remind those defiant authorities that we are going to apply the law, we cannot tolerate a situation where people continue to defy our instructions. We are compiling a list of defiant school heads. We have instruments that we can use to punish those schools. We can even transfer those headmasters who are resisting instructions. I am not threatening you but that is a fact. We cannot continue to tolerate school heads who do what they want,” he said.–@NyembeziMu