The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MOPSE) has said the country has a deficit of about 3 000 schools, according to NewsDay.
MOPSE minister Evelyn Ndlovu and her secretary Tumisang Thabela yesterday appealed for financial assistance from donors and well-wishers to resolve the crisis bedevilling the education sector.
Speaking during a high-level policy dialogue organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund and attended by representatives from various embassies, Thabela said:
The demand for education in this country is very great, but the supply of the educational services continues to be a bit challenging.
The country currently has an estimated population of 6 694 618 children who are aged three to 18 years, according to the latest census figures. This age group represents the demand for educational services from us as the basic education sector.
The estimated demand of schools to satisfy the population is 13 100, but our last educational census — the educational management information statistics — of 2021 recorded 10 147 schools throughout the country, which gives us a deficit of close to 3 000, but we are talking about three years or so now.
Supply is, therefore, less than demand and this calls for a deliberate investment in education infrastructure provision, especially in light of a growing population and emerging settlements across the country.
These new settlements that are forced by demographic realities have seen a rise in satellite schools — schools that are not full-fledged — but we have to provide because people need education and need it badly. These schools need a substantial investment to meet minimum standards as required by the ministry for registration as stand-alone schools.
Education ministry statistics show that currently there are 1 963 satellite schools in resettlement areas, 1 087 of which are primary schools, while 876 are secondary.
Thabela also said that 15% of the 2023 national budget allocated to the education sector, which was higher than last year’s allocation, was still not sufficient to address a myriad of challenges in the sector.
She said there was a need for financial aid to improve the poor infrastructures and for teachers’ capacitation, among other needs.
Thabela called upon various education actors and stakeholders to assist the education sector adding that the government cannot do it alone.
Ndlovu also said parents should help government provide education for all pupils by paying levies.
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