Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema has challenged schools to commercialise their projects so that they can contribute to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
He said the government has approved the strategy for schools to engage in commercial ventures. Mathema, however, warned against using learners as a source of cheap labour.
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He made the remarks on Thursday during a tour of the United Congregational Church of Southern Africa-run Tennyson Hlabangana High School in Bulawayo, which is undertaking several income-generating projects. Said Mathema:
Government has approved the strategy for schools to engage in commercial ventures for sustainable development and lifelong learning as part of its efforts to implement a transformative agenda that is geared at promoting sustainable economic development and the betterment of the lives of the people of Zimbabwe.
Given the number of schools and students in the primary and secondary education sector, the potential to contribute to the country’s GDP is significant.
The objective is to create value while advancing the educational goals if the commercial ventures are effectively and efficiently executed.
The commercial ventures in schools will bring the ‘shop floor’ to the school. Pupils can now experience some areas of work in the comfort of their own schools.
However, I would like to emphasise that pupils should not be used as sources of cheap labour.
Mathema said viable commercial ventures should have full-time managers and employees to support learners with the technical skills they need during practical lessons.
The minister said in the course of time, they expect that school business ventures would be able to produce quality goods, making schools cost-effective providers of quality education.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Affairs minister Judith Ncube welcomed the new thrust, saying it will improve the capability and behaviour of pupils.