Education International
Education International

Zimbabwe: qualified teachers are the answer to filling the recruitment gap

published 18 March 2015 updated 30 March 2015

Teacher unionists aren’t happy with the government’s decision to recruit more than 20,000 unqualified teachers to fill empty posts, which account for nearly a fifth of the country’s teaching force in primary and secondary schools.

Even though Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa (91 percent), the country’s severe shortage of teachers in primary and secondary schools has led the government to recruit more than 20,000 unqualified personnel to fill in the gap.

That’s according to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, which revealed that the average pupil to qualified teacher ratio in primary schools had increased to 42:1 and 31:1 in secondary schools.

Sifiso Ndlovu, Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA), affiliated to Education International (EI), says that the number of unqualified teachers is “unacceptable” and warned against a possible collapse in education standards, saying that “the teacher to pupil ratio should be reviewed”.

“The number of unqualified teachers is a poor development because, when you give children unqualified teachers, you are guaranteeing them poor education and poor pass rates,” said Ndlovu.

Qualifications not required

According to the ministry, a total of 10,341 teachers are unqualified to teach at primary level, while 11,519 are unqualified to teach in secondary schools. The primary level in the Matabeleland North province has the highest number of unqualified teachers, with 1,953 out of 4,793 untrained.

The Masvingo province, located in the east of the country, recorded the highest number of qualified teachers with 9,994 having completed teaching diplomas and degrees; only 491 are unqualified, the report shows.

The ministry also revealed that the ratio of pupils to qualified teachers is higher in non-government schools.

A 2012 report by the then Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture showed that the Government employed 98,446 teachers.

Thousands of teachers left the country at the height of sanctions-induced economic hardships and are working in regional countries like South Africa and Botswana, along with up to a million other Zimbabweans who fled the economic downturn, which peaked in 2008, according to ZIMTA.