The largest sector of higher education is teacher education colleges, which are situated mostly in urban centers, much like technical colleges. The teacher education colleges offer instruction in numerous subjects, such as languages, arts, mathematics, social sciences, sciences, and commercial and other technical fields. While each college has a unique curriculum, there are certain areas where the curriculum is standardized such as science, mathematics, English, Shona/Ndebele, and professional foundations. Whereas some colleges train both primary and secondary school teachers, some specialize in training just one level. Because of the special relationship that exists between the University of Zimbabwe and teachertraining colleges, the diplomas that are granted are university certificates.
In general, the Ministry of Higher Education administers technical and teachers' colleges, with teachers' colleges having a somewhat differing status, as the awarding of diploma certificates illustrates. Teachers' colleges follow the standard administrative structure of government colleges, but unlike technical colleges, they have an academic board, which is called the Associate College Centre academic board. This board comprises all college principals, representatives from the Ministry of Higher Education's Teacher Education section, and university representatives. The board is charged with the responsibility of monitoring all academic programs in the colleges. Technical college administrative structure comprises three bodies. The first is a college advisory council (CAC), which advises the principal on how to run the institution smoothly. Members are appointed by the Minister of Higher Education to advise the principal and help meet commerce and industry workforce needs. The second body is the college administration (CA), which is the administrative organ of the college; it includes the principal, the registrar, and the deputy and assistant registrars. The final group is The College Board of Studies Committee (CBSC), which is chaired by the college principal and is responsible for monitoring academic programs as well as overall administration. Senior administrators of the college join the principal on the board.
As school enrollments grew, the number of teachers grew as well. There were 28,500 primary school teachers in 1980, which increased to 58,200 in 1989. During that same period, secondary school teachers increased by 3,730 teachers, to a total of 25,030 in 1989. The number of untrained teachers increased from 3 percent to 49 percent during the same period. This problem was more pronounced in rural areas and in the fields of science, practical technology, and mathematics. The high turnover of teachers from rural areas and the lack of adequate salaries was exacerbated by cuts in social spending that were precipitated by economic structural adjustments in the 1990s, all of which combined to create a severely distressed situation among rural education institutions. The problem of high teacher turnover first experienced in the 1980s and 1990s continues into the new millennium. Officially the student-teacher ratio is 30:1 in elementary schools, decreasing to 20:1 in forms one through four, and decreasing even further in forms five and six. However, in reality, the ratios are much higher. While the government pays teachers' salaries as civil servants, private schools pay for extra teachers through school management committees.
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