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A majority of schools in Matabeleland are understaffed and ill-equipped to provide quality education | Image by Unsplash
The Citizen Bulletin is bringing together teachers, parents, experts and activists to discuss challenges bedeviling public education in Matabeleland—and to explore lasting solutions.
BULAWAYO (The Citizen Bulletin) — Since the first person tested positive to coronavirus in Zimbabwe in March 2020, thousands of pupils have been on an extended school vacation. A minority of these have been forced to drop out of school due to a number of issues including unwanted pregnancies.
While a majority of these pupils remain out of school, those in the final year were forced to sit for their final exams without adequate preparation. The Citizen Bulletin has reported on many of the challenges pupils, parents and teachers are experiencing as they try to navigate an education system that’s reached a new level of crisis.
Our coverage has shone a light on inequalities in public education, especially in rural Matabeleland, where a majority of schools are understaffed and ill-equipped to provide quality education. These challenges are not new but the coronavirus pandemic has laid them bare, and in some instances exacerbated them.
The release of grade seven examination results by the Zimbabwe School Examination Council recently shows that most schools in Matabeleland fared badly, again, with some recording zero percent pass rates. This has triggered a fresh debate on public education in Matabeleland, with many interested citizens raising questions about what’s wrong, and what isn’t working about the system.
Our second Open Newsroom (explore the first here) has been necessitated by these ongoing conversations on an issue, which without doubt, matters most to our audiences, now more than ever. We thus want to better understand not just the issue, but the solutions envisaged by different stakeholders from Matabeleland in as far public education is concerned.
We’re currently assembling a panel of speakers who include a former head teacher, an academic working to improve public education in Matabeleland, and a development practitioner. We’ll post the lineup of speakers once we’ve agreed terms with them.
What to Expect
The Public Education in Matabeleland Open Newsroom will be held on Thursday, Feb. 18 at 11:00 a.m (Central African Time). We will ask speakers to answer questions, share resources and shed some light on broader challenges of public education in Matabeleland and discuss potential solutions.
How to Participate
Speakers will participate through Zoom while the rest of the participants will engage with the discussion through Facebook Live via The Citizen Bulletin Facebook page and WhatsApp (send the word 'JOIN' to +263 7 18636460 to be added to The Citizen Bulletin WhatsApp broadcast list and group. The moderator will actively use participants' comments on Facebook and WhatsApp to steer the discussion.
What if I Miss the Live Discussion?
We know that a majority of our audiences, mostly low-income communities, will not be able to participate in the virtual meeting as they can hardly spare a dollar to buy internet data bundles. Don’t worry; if you miss the live discussion, you can request short, digestible video snippets of the conversation via WhatsApp. Send a chat to +263 7 18636460 after the session and request the video.
Note: We will update this article with a short video snippet after the session.
Open Newsroom is an experimental project of The Citizen Bulletin designed to facilitate collaboration between our newsroom and our audiences in news reporting. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, we are hosting our Open Newsroom sessions online. The initiative is part of our Membership in News Initiative supported by the Media Development Investment Fund via the Membership Puzzle Project.