Minister Says Zimbabwe Public Schools to Enroll Desperate Pupils

Irwin Chifera

WASHINGTON DC— Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Lazarus Dokora, says all pupils who have not yet secured Form One places will be admitted in public schools despite a shortage of schools in the country.

In a ministerial statement ahead of the opening of the first term for 2015, Dokora told journalists that schools are expected to open afternoon classes to ensure every deserving pupil is accommodated.

He said his ministry has directed district education officers to assist parents who have not yet secured places for their children.

Thousands of pupils have not yet secured Form One places after the ministry abolished the entrance test system where pupils would chose schools of their choice.

Under the new system, schools are required to register pupils from the local area. This has resulted in some headmasters demanding proof of residence before registration.

Dokora said this is justified for day schools.

He said with slightly more 8,200 primary and secondary schools, Zimbabwe needs an additional 2,056 to be able to cater for all pupils.

Dokora added that than 1,000 schools particularly in resettlement areas needed to be upgraded to acceptable standards.

The shortage of public schools in Zimbabwe has seen a proliferation in privately-run unregistered schools.

Government abolished entrance tests for Form One saying schools were milking parents through the tests.

Dokora said parents should not pay for Grade One school places. However, some schools are charging between $50 and $120 to register a child for Grade 0 or Grade One.

He said his officers would carry out investigations and those found guilty would be dealt with in terms of the law.

The first term for 2015 opens on January 13.