Education Transition Fund Sensitisation
By Tapuwa L. Mutseyekwa
Bulawayo, 4th August 2010 - For most people in Zimbabwe, the expression of joy and happiness are best done through music and drama. It was in this spirit that children in Bulawayo inundated the first sensitisation ceremony of the Education Transition Fund (ETF) with an array of drama, song, poem and dance.
In a dramatisation act of the their school life before and after the roll out of the ETF in Zimbabwe, children at Mpumelelo Primary school showed the misery of having limited learning resources and the new found joy with the arrival of materials provided under ETF programme.
“This atmosphere of joy and celebration is a correct expression of how children are feeling today,” said the school headmistress Mrs. Priscilla Chibelu. “At one time it was a miserable experience to come to school, because for most children there were no learning materials to benefit form” said Mrs. Chibelu.
Indeed, many schools are moving beyond these grim days as UNICEF and the inclusive Government of Zimbabwe work towards meeting the pledge made in September 2009 to supply all 5,300 primary schools with stationery and textbooks. Already, most schools have had the stationery supplies of writing books, chalks, pens and pencils delivered to their schools. Steel cabinets to be used for the storage of these supplies have also been delivered while more than 60% of the textbooks have already been printed and await the commencement of the distribution process.
Speaking on behalf of the UNICEF Representative Dr. Peter Salama, UNICEF Chief of Communication, Ms. Micaela Marques De Sousa said UNICEF remained committed to ensuring quality education for all Zimbabwe’s children and urged parents to share the vision of protecting children’s education.
“We are cognizant of the fact that textbooks, learning materials and supplies are necessary, but they remain tentative steps towards attaining quality and improving access to education”, she said “Unless we successfully mobilise communities, parents, teachers and learners to work together and share the vision and ambition of the Education Transition Fund Programme, we will not achieve much”.
While most of the schools in Zimbabwe have received their stationery, it is calculated that by the beginning of 2011, every primary school student will be in possession of a textbook in all the four core subjects, including books printed in the minority indigenous languages such as Venda and Tonga. The Minister of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture, Sen. David Coltart highlighted that the next step in the revitilisation of the education sector is to respond to the needs of the teachers, including their remuneration, accommodation and other basic needs.
“We applaud the dedication and commitment that our teachers continue to display”, said Sen. Coltart. “Most of them, particularly those in the rural areas, live in very squalid conditions and continue to live on a very minimal pay, but they remain committed to their duty.
Over the last decade, Zimbabwe’s education sector has seriously been affected by limited resources to replenish stationery and textbooks stocks. Coupled with the difficulty in awarding teachers attractive salaries, learning had come to a near halt in most schools. Over the next three months, sensitisation and awareness programmes will be rolled out in all the ten provinces of the country alerting parents and communities of how ETF is set to restore the lost glory in the education sector.