Almost one million school pupils have dropped out of schools over the past year, mainly due to COVID-19-induced poverty which has increased inequalities.
This was said by Fungisai Sithole, programmes manager for Friedrich Naumann Foundation, a non-governmental organisation.
Sithole said their investigations had shown that out of approximately six million students that enrol at learning institutions annually in the country, about 840 000 had dropped out of school. She said:
The national average of school dropouts is at 15%, but Matabeleland South doubles the national average and so we need to do more and try to address the issue of school dropouts as a country.
Sithole attributed the zero pass rates recorded at some schools in some provinces to an acute shortage of teachers. She said:
Some of the reasons why some provinces experience a zero per cent pass rate are because the teachers are simply not there.
That monitoring aspect should be reintroduced. Schools are naturally on autopilot and yet children are expected to produce results from there.
Sithole said the digital divide between rural and urban areas had exacerbated the education inequalities that are now glaring within societies. She said:
These children have no access to phones, they have no network and already, they come from poor backgrounds.
The education budget priorities should change focus, and we need more digital infrastructure to be able to make sure that we continue to address issues that separate children.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro, however, said the Friedrich Naumann Foundation figures were based on speculation.