Nqobile Tshili, Sunday News Correspondent
CONCERNS have been raised over poor Ordinary Level pass rates obtained by schools from Matabeleland region with Bulawayo and Matabeleland North provinces coming at the bottom nationally.
Zimbabwe School Examination Council (Zimsec), early this month, released the 2016 O-level results, that also showed which provinces performed well in the examinations.
Although southern region’s Masvingo and Midlands provinces came first and fourth respectively with pass rates of 31,12 percent and 29,97 percent, concerns have been raised over poor pass rates by schools in the Matabeleland region.
Matabeleland North sits at the bottom with a 22,7 percent pass rate, while Bulawayo came eighth with a 25,29 percent pass rate.
Matabeleland South came sixth scoring a 26,44 percent pass.
In 2015, Bulawayo was at the bottom recording 25,07 percent while Matabeleland South was eighth with 25,33 percent.
Educators and analysts have said the issue of pass rates should be a concern for both parents and schools.
Bulawayo acting provincial education director Mrs Ollicah Fikelephi Kaira said she was worried that a metropolitan province was sitting on a lowly position eight.
“We’re not happy to sit on position eight as a province, a metropolitan one for that matter. We wish we could be number one, the pole position like we are at Grade Seven. At Grade Seven we are doing well. We don’t compare with other provinces, mostly we are usually pole positions quantitatively. We don’t know what happens along the line when our children get to secondary school because one would expect that the good results attained at Grade Seven must carry us across,” Mrs Kaira said.
She said the province needed to start strategising on how schools that were producing good results can assist those with poor results.
“We have a lot of work to do. We need to strategise, we need to come aboard as teachers and heads and the larger community and the media as the national mouthpiece assisting us in that regard,” she said.
Mrs Kaira said the province has partnered with Bulawayo Polytechnic College to teach commercial students, in a similar programme they do with National University of Science and Technology in teaching science subjects.
Matabeleland North PED Mrs Boithatelo Mnguni could not be drawn to comment on the results saying the province is yet to analyse them.
Researcher and director of Public Policy Research Institute of Zimbabwe (PPRIZ) Dr Samukele Hadebe said poverty among other things was also contributing to poor pass rates in the region.
“The issue of poverty, the provinces that you are referring to have the highest rate of HIV infections, highest rates of cancer and those are the diseases associated with poverty. So you don’t expect someone from a poor background, who is starving, to perform well.
“The performance in education cannot be isolated to one issue but when we address it we should start with the school environment,” said Dr Hadebe.
He said long distances and teachers’ attitudes should also be considered as contributing factors in the issue of pass rates.
Dr Hadebe said schools should have a culture of succeeding and teachers should be worried if they produce low pass rates every year.