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Govt to construct 144 modern boarding schools

by Staff reporter
17 Nov 2021 at 05:34hrs | Views
GOVERNMENT will construct 144 modern boarding schools countrywide next year to mitigate against the shortage of learning institutions.

The boarding schools will be built in each of the country's 72 districts.

In some instances, some existing schools will be transformed into low-cost boarding schools.

The country has a deficit of 3 000 schools and boarding schools are overwhelmed with enrolments which has seen only 0,5 percent of learners being enrolled in secondary boarding schools.

To address this problem, Cabinet yesterday resolved that more Government boarding schools be constructed in the country.

This follows a report tabled by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima who is the chairperson of the Cabinet Committee on Social Services and Poverty Eradication.

Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told a post Cabinet media briefing that the schools will cater for increased demand.

"To cater for the increase in demand for both primary and secondary education and ensure that no child walks more than 5 km to school, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education intends to build 3 000 new schools by 2025," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

"During implementation of the project, more secondary than primary boarding schools will be constructed in an endeavour to satisfy increased demand. Some existing day schools will be converted into boarding schools, while some low-cost boarding facilities will be constructed at existing schools as the need arises.

The project will be implemented in phases next year starting with 144 model 21st century Government primary and secondary boarding schools spread across all the country's 10 provinces."

She said one primary and one secondary boarding school with adequate state-of-the-art facilities will be constructed in each of the 72 districts of the country.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development will fund the construction of the first 144 schools.

She said Government will engage public-private partnership for the construction of the deficit 3000 schools.

"Adequate furniture and Information Communication Technology equipment will be procured for each school, while a source of clean potable water will be installed within 500 metres of the school and including a reticulation system and ablution facilities. Each school will be electrified and provided with internet facilities," she said.

"The school will be fenced, and civil works in terms of access roads, a car park and landscaping will be undertaken. Each school will have enough land for sport infrastructure, commercial farming and manufacturing."

Minister Mutsvangwa said a lot of learners are failing to get enrolled in boarding schools.

This resulted in Government introducing an online recruitment exercise for prospective boarders to curb the possibility of corrupt allocation of slots to undeserving learners.

"Currently, there are 9 778 schools, with 6 798 primary and 2 980 being secondary schools, and a total enrolment of 4 659  993.

Only 1,9 percent of the 6 798 primary schools are boarding schools, with only 35 of these being Government owned. Of the 2 980 secondary schools, only 10,6 percent are boarding schools and only 60 are owned by Government.

The boarding secondary schools can only accommodate 24 000 learners, a mere 0,52 percent of the current enrolment," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

She said at least 37,3 percent of the country's population is estimated to be school-going age hence the need to invest in building more schools.

Minister Mutsvangwa said the situation has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"More schools are needed to accommodate the projected increase to 5 657 412 for the school-going age group. The Covid-19 pandemic has also increased the demand for new schools and additional school infrastructure so as to decongest existing boarding schools," said Minister Mutsvangwa.

Meanwhile, Cabinet extended the national lockdown by a further two weeks while encouraging citizens to get vaccinated in order to protect the nation against a possible 4th wave of the pandemic.

Source - The Chronicle