Zimbabwe - Preprimary & Primary Education
Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceZimbabwe - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education
PREPRIMARY & PRIMARY EDUCATION
Generally, the children of well-to-do urbanites attend preschool between the ages of three and seven. Preschool education in rural areas is scarce and irregular, even though establishing preschool facilities has been part of the government's initiatives. While the local communities assume the major responsibility of operating preschools, the government's involvement entails training, management and supervision, and paying small allowances to teachers.
A shortage of amenities has led to poor building conditions and a lack of furniture for school children to sit on in many schools. The enrollment rate of girls is in decline in some remote districts. Teachers are often underpaid, and in some cases they are not paid for several months. This trend has frustrated teachers and caused a lot of them to seek alternative, well-paying jobs or even leave for other nations, thus reducing the number of trained teachers.
Public schools are coeducational. There are generally five hours of in-class instruction and three hours of structured out-of-class activities. In 1990, there were approximately 2.1 million students enrolled in a total of 4,559 primary schools. While primary education has been free since independence was achieved in 1992, sliding-scale tuition fees were introduced as a cost-recovery measure to cater to different socioeconomic groups; disadvantaged rural communal areas were exempt from such fees. The urban council districts have a better infrastructure than the rural ones, with the commercial farming and mining areas not as well provided. Parents in disadvantaged rural areas do not pay fees, but they contribute to education by volunteering to work in various school projects. Between 1980 and the 1990s, Zimbabwe experienced tremendous growth in indigenous enrollment in primary schools (grades 1 through 7). In 1994, for example, 76 percent of the Zimbabwean population had acquired fifth grade education. Figures from the Zimbabwe Central Statistical Office (1997) indicate that in 1993, the number of pupils attending primary and secondary schools was equivalent to 86 percent of children in the relevant age group (male 90 percent, female 81 percent). The number of primary schools rose from 2,411 at independence in 1980 to 4,633 in 1995.
The government created facilities and school-level structures at district, provincial, and national levels for children with disabilities. The schools are either separate for students with severe disabilities, or integrated into the mainstream schools and classes for those with less severe physical or mental challenges. A major limitation to integration has been the lack of trained teachers. However, integration has started to improve, as the teachers' colleges are increasingly training special education teachers. Some churches and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) cater to students with various disabilities.