The unions attributed poor budgetary allocations to the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, which is below 22% of the national budget as stipulated by the Dakar Convention, poor working conditions for teachers as well as poor education infrastructure as having contributed to the low pass rate.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said: “While the effects of COVID-19 cannot be dismissed in total, the major factors of demotivation and incapacitation of teachers, limited investment in quality public education, poor infrastructural development in rural schools, and useless pedagogical methods of television and radio lessons adopted by government in a situation where more than 75% of students in rural areas had no radio and television frequency, must also be amplified,” Zhou said.
He said the 12,7% 2021 budgetary allocation towards the Primary and Secondary Education ministry was inadequate compared to 22% of the national budget stipulated by the Dakar Convention.
“The issues of welfare of teachers are crucial in driving a skills education revolution that students can use in life or beyond the classroom in line with Agenda 2030,” Zhou said.
He said 24,8% of candidates that garnered five or more subjects could not be perceived as commendable.
“It is puzzling that Zimsec has the temerity to justify such poor results by pointing to previous poor results (rather than previous good results) and unnamed countries that allegedly went into national lockdown due to COVID-19 and experienced a decrease in pass rates.”.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure added: “The results are a disaster considering that over 11% failed to register and sit for the national examinations. Of course, it’s not surprising that government is always the one to pick positives from a dark spot. It is its sole responsibility to provide quality and anything less than that, we will not accept.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said the incapacitation of teachers would always be topical.
“During the lockdown, teachers had little money to buy food, cover transport and medical bills and, therefore, not much time was maximised to learning hence the poor pass rate,” he said.
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union national co-ordinator Wonder Nyapokoto said: “The rural candidates from impecunious schools with neither electricity nor connectivity have, in fact, shown, as expected, extremely poor performance. No doubt, overall the rural child, without online learning or textbooks, and not having fully covered the syllabus, had to perform dismally.”
But Zimsec spokesperson Nicky Dlamini blamed the low pass rate on the reduced number of candidates who sat for the examinations as a result of the COVID-19 disruptions to the education calendar.
“There was a decrease in candidature of 32 365, thus translating to a percentage decrease of 11%. A total of 264 099 candidates sat for the November 2020 O-Level examinations as compared to 296 464 candidates who sat for the same examinations in 2019,” she said.