Zim Sets Pace in Education


Zimbabwe’s academic star continues to shine after the country recently scooped a Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) award for its sterling role towards quality education in the region.

Earlier Zimbabwe received regional acclaim for its leading literacy rate.

SACMEQ is an inter-governmental association of 15 education ministers in south and east Africa whose formation emanated from a research conducted by Zimbabwe in 1989.

Zimbabwe’s education minister, Lazurus Dokora, welcomed the award, adding that the country will aggressively do its part in maintaining its regional pace-setting position in education.

“Zimbabwe is inspired to take it forward in setting standards through action research and building on our record literacy rate,” Minister Dokora said.

He also noted that programmes such as e-learning and early child development policies among others have fostered access to education through equity and quality, adding that the award “ is received with honour and pride”.

The research assessed education quality in Zimbabwean primary schools, while aiming at informing policy formation (regarding the education system), as well as acquainting ministry officials with integrated research practices.

The outcome of the research saw the establishment of the 15-member organisation, which is headquartered in France.

In its citation, SACMEQ highlights how the country has helped transform education quality in the region through hallmark research, which has also influenced the establishment of an interactive platform of regional education ministries for cutting-edge research and empirical policy formulation.

The research “Indicators of the Quality of Education Study” also had a training component.

“The experience from this research project resulted in a dialogue that eventually resulted in the preparation of a proposal that would address these important research and training challenges through the establishment of an association of ministries of education known as SACMEQ (the Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality). SACMEQ was registered in Zimbabwe in 1997,” read part of the citation.

Earlier this year, Zimbabwe was ranked first, for the third time in a row, in literacy throughout Africa with a literacy rate of 97 percent, according the African Economist Magazine, taking over from Tunisia, which now stands at 74.3 percent.

Meanwhile, a UNICEF Report marking World Teachers’ Day indicates that Sub-Saharan Africa faces an acute teacher shortage, especially primary school teachers, with the region representing 46 percent of global lower secondary school teacher shortage. The problem is, however, global in phenomenon.

These UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (UIS) report’s chilling revelations cast doubt on the attainment of Millennium Development Goal 2, regarding universal primary education by 2014.

“An acute shortage of primary teachers represents one of the biggest hurdles to achieving the goal of universal primary education,” said the report, which stressed: “Policies that effectively address teacher training and retention should be at the core of national education policies.”

The report indicates that by 2030, about 2.1 million teaching posts would have to be created in Sub-Saharan Africa, with replacement needed for a further 2.6 million teachers leaving the profession.

Ethiopia, Cameroon, Namibia and Lesotho are on track to achieve universal primary education goal by 2015, if current trends continue, while the situation looks bleaker for Côte d’Ivoire, Eritrea, Malawi and Nigeria who are likely to face acute teacher shortages beyond 2030.

Resource constraints against a background of a ballooning young population are some of the factors that have seen the region faced with teacher shortage challenges. The subject has been central to this year’s World Teachers’ Day celebrations amid urgent calls for policy revision alongside increased teacher training programmes to curb the problem hence this year’s slogan dubbed “A Call for Teachers”.

November 2013
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