Cash, equipment windfall for schools

Tinashe Farawo
State-run primary and secondary schools will get US$4 000 each while those with farms will get irrigation equipment to support implementation of the updated education curriculum. The United Nations Children’s Fund has already released US$5 million towards the initiative, with public-private partnerships expected to fund irrigation.
Zimbabwe is implementing the updated curriculum that focuses on developing learners’ cognitive and psychomotor skills, among other areas.
The US$5 million chest will cover essential teaching and learning materials, while schools with farms will retain 20 percent of proceeds under the irrigation initiative.
The remaining 80 percent will pay for irrigation equipment purchased on credit.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora told The Sunday Mail last week, “We are distributing US$4 000 to each primary school in the country under school improvements grants. Some satellite schools will also benefit from the scheme.
‘‘The money is primarily meant to improve our children’s learning environment.
“We want every child to access quality education, and these grants might be used to buy computers or anything school administrators and parents might see necessary. On the overall, implementation of the new curriculum is progressing well in spite of unfounded allegations and misconceptions circulating on social media.”
Regarding irrigation support, Dr Dokora said, “This will mean that apart from our learners experiencing agricultural activities during their studies, schools will also benefit because they will be feeding themselves, especially boarding schools or those under the National School Feeding Scheme.
“The irrigation facilities will see schools grow crops throughout the year, and we are also encouraging breeding of small livestock. What is more, the public-private partnerships we have proposed mean that participating schools will retain 20 percent of produce while the balance will be put on the market. The arrangement also involves agricultural extension officers so that schools benefit from their vast practical experience.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association secretary-general Mr John Mlilo said, “The coming in of our partners to improve the learning environment of our children is welcome, and has come at the right time.
‘‘It shows that the direction we are taking is positive in implementing the new curriculum. The drilling of boreholes will also ensure that our teachers and learners will have access to clean and safe water.”
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe added: “I hope this development will not turn our schools into concentration camps or institutions that focus more on agriculture at the expense of other learning areas. But like what I have always said, these things should involve all stakeholders in the sector for them to get optimum support.”

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