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SENATE HANSARD 08 OCTOBER 2015 VOL 25 NO 08

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PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 8th October, 2015.

The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE ACTING PRESIDENT in the Chair)

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT

APPOINTMENT TO THEMATIC COMMITTEES

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT: I have to inform the Senate that the following members have been appointed to serve in Thematic Committees as follows: Hon. Senator Chipanga - Human Rights Peace and Security and Hon. Senator Buka - Human Rights, Gender and Development.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT: We are supposed to go to Questions Without Notice but since there are no Ministers, we will go to Order of the Day Number 1.

MOTION

PRESIDENTIAL SPEECH: DEBATE ON ADDRESS

      First Order read: Adjourned debate on motion in reply to the Presidential Speech.

      Question again proposed.

      SENATOR MLOTSHWA: Thank you Mr. President. May I start by thanking you for giving me this opportunity to respond to the speech by the President. I only hope that I am responding to the right one.

      Mr. President, the FDI that the President alluded to in his speech and the One Stop Shop Investment Centre has a potential to give our country an economical lifeline but it has been the talk since the Inclusive Government. It is evident that the investors are still skeptical because of the leaders of Government. The investors are looking at the body language of the leaders of Government. I recall that when our President went to South Africa sometime, it was on the electronic and print media that he was questioning why the whites still have a say in South Africa whereas South Africa has created a rainbow nation for itself where it tolerates everybody. Mr. President, though it was put on a lighter note but investors listen to everything that the leaders of other countries say.

      On Special Economic Zones, in his statement, the President said this will promote export and boost industrialisation. It is difficult to comprehend why the manufacturing sector relocated from Bulawayo which was the hub of the industries long back, you know that very well; is left a ghost town. If it was the issue of water that was affecting Bulawayo, why was it not solved by the Government? Why is that people of that region are treated like second class citizens in their own country?

      Mr. President, the Banking Amendment Bill, I hope when it is brought to Parliament will not affect the sector because we have seen the sector being affected so much by the indigenous ambiguous laws. Mr. President, the job losses that the speech by the President also touched on includes the loss of jobs from the State entities like ZBC. I hear again from the newspapers that so many Ndebele programmes are being affected by the firing of producers who produce those Ndebele programmes. The anomaly has been reported. I saw that the Makokoba legislator was trying to make some interventions politically.

      As the Opposition, we tried to make meaningful amendments to the Labour Bill which was done hurriedly with members of this Senate castigating us for wanting to delay the passing of the Bill with speed. Mr. President, after proper analysis everyone knows that the rift that people thought was being brought by the passing of the Bill was just a pie in the sky; it is not reachable. Mr. President, how can we pass a Bill which does not look into the issue of women’s maternity leave and passing the Bill hurriedly as it was done?    

      Mr. President, I hope the Consumer Protection Bill will take into consideration that there is too much influx of libido herb tablets that are being sold on the streets without health safety being considered. The tablets are also influencing the rate of rape cases which according to the President, people are raping six months old children. The issue of why people are consuming these tablets, I think should be looked into. It might be effects of some stress, economic hardships or something else. The Government should look into it because that market cannot boom unless there are people who are willing to buy those tablets.

          Mr. President, as a country we can put in place different individuals to curb corruption. I remember that we recently interviewed people who go into commissions. Unless the Government tolerates the truth and findings of the investigations that they make, it would just be a waste of time to put those commissions in place because the Government has condoned corruption tendencies for a very long time. People know that even if they do it the wrong way, nobody will say anything. I think the President as the principal of the Executive should have taken measures long back against people who have affected the development of the country by sticking to corrupt tendencies.

Mr. President, we are committed to contribute to the development of this country. By ‘we’ I mean everybody, it is not only certain individuals who should be committed but every Zimbabwean should be prepared to contribute to the development of the country. However, we need to see tolerance from the ruling party for everyone with opposing views. In other countries Mr. President, people go to an election with 100 parties contesting the elections because this is what we call democracy.

We get disturbed to hear high profile people who do not respect the works of others, for example, to say that Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo was a sell-out – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear] - whereas he is the founder of Zimbabwean politics. It is so unfortunate that it came from a Vice President of this country and there is no witness to that effect. This will not forge unity of purpose by the President …

SENATOR MUSAKA: On a point of order Mr. President.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT: What is your point of order?

SENATOR MUSAKA: The hon. senator should stick to the Presidential Speech and not newspaper reports. Thank you.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT: The hon. senator may continue.

SENATOR MLOTSHWA: Thank you Mr. President. I am talking about the unity that the President was appealing to in his speech. So, I am saying that we cannot get unity – [HON. SENATORS: Inaudible interjections.] –

THE ACTING PRESIDENT: Order, order hon. senators. Let us listen to her, she has the right to speak.

SENATOR MLOTSHWA: Thank you Mr. President. That is the tolerance that I am talking about. I am speaking on the unity that the President alluded to in his speech and I am pointing to the issues that are bringing this disunity. I am even thinking why we have a Unity Day when we cannot respect the works of other people.

Mr. President, the fact that we still have individuals who disappear into thin air and never to be found when we want to have peace is a very disturbing issue. It always exposes the dictator’s tendencies of Idi Amin’s calibre. Mr. President, I would want to thank you very much for your time.

SENATOR MASUKU: I move that the debate be suspended.

SENATOR MUMVURI: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE

*SENATOR MAVHUNGA: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. May you please explain to the nation the steps that you are taking to stop hot-sitting which is happening in schools within our communities as this is disturbing to the learners.

*THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): Thank you Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to respond to the question from Senator Mavhunga so that we can explain the steps being taken by Government in eliminating hot-sitting in our schools. In other words, this can be likened to shifts. In some schools we have two whilst others have three sessions. We are also well-informed that these sessions do not give learners enough time to learn. This is because during the process of transition from one session to the other, even moving from one class to the other, it robs the learners of their time. Therefore, it is up to us as a nation to seek ways of eliminating these problems. I remember in 2013, some steps were taken to eliminate this and the issue was raised in Cabinet meetings and the Portfolio Committee on Education. We were looking for ways of eliminating hot-sitting or session learning. There were three ideas which emanated from this discussion. The first plan was that as the people of Zimbabwe, we value education highly since independence and as a result, we need to invest more in education so that we can build enough Government schools.

According to the Education Act, we said municipalities should build primary schools and that secondary schools would be the responsibility of Government and other private players. Our research has shown us that some councils are saying they are responsible for these schools but they are not responsible for running the schools because the Government is paying teachers in these institutions and supplying learning material in these schools.

The second instance is that we have another group of the people of Zimbabwe under the education systems. Private colleges can be erected by people who have enough funds to build and run these schools. Government is responsible for the implementation level and there should be some demography which shows that in any area there should be first and foremost a Council school, secondly a Government school and then the third segment is going to be the private school. This will give the residents of that area a choice of school of their own choice according to their earnings or funds.

          In order for us to eliminate this problem we adopted a third plan which was agreed to some nine months ago by Cabinet and we were empowered to go and seek for partners and joint ventures in the construction of schools. As hon. senators I know you are very much aware of that because in August we discussed the expression of interest and this was closed in August. The main interest in this was to invite the private sector who were willing to come and have joint ventures with Government before we go to the other tenders.

          We are trying to run away from the system which is done in other areas where we have Built-Own-and-Transfer especially in the roads but in this instance, a stakeholder will come and construct a school and hand it over to Government without operating it. What is needed is a clear examination of each area and examine the demographic situation so that plans can be made in implementing these schools. We have noticed that in some areas, parents have shown their willingness to participate in the constitution of schools by moulding bricks and putting sand together. As a result when a partner comes they will know that people are really willing to go. When a stakeholder comes and sees that there are 1600 people in that situation, they will have to construct other schools. We have these situations in areas like Luveve and Cowdry Park where we have more people in those schools.

          *SENATOR CHIMHINI: Thank you Mr. President. My supplementary is that when you agreed with the private sector to come and construct schools, did you put in place the way you were going to monitor the operations of these schools especially in areas like Harare. We have a lot of schools which are sprouting in all the places and as a Ministry my question is, did you put any mechanisms in place for monitoring the modus operandi of these schools?

          *DR. DOKORA: Thank you very much for asking that supplementary question on the construction of schools. It is very true and during the time of hyper inflation in this country, as a Ministry we did not have enough resources to move around and monitor the operations of these schools. We could not afford to buy a car, let alone fuel to go around and inspect these schools. Fortunately, we are busy as a Ministry and we are holding talks with the Public Service Commission and line ministries which work together with the Commission.

We have given them the way they should follow so that the provincial teams which have been put in place in the ten provinces should now concentrate on administrative work just like coordination points. The experts will be stationed in the districts. So we are decentralising because we have realised that we find schools in the districts and these schools are not run by provinces. We have the advantage of inspecting each and every school, the way it is operating, is it registered, is it following the rules and conditions set down. We also believe that as hon. senators especially Hon Chimhini, you will be able to go and inspect those schools and bring your report.

SENATOR MUMVURI: My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. Is it Government policy now or is it just an intention that all candidates who wish to enroll for university degree studies should have ‘O’ level mathematics and science subjects?

THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (DR. GANDAWA): I want to thank the Hon. Senator Mumvuri for a very pertinent question. Every country that needs to develop should be hinged on science and technology. Research and development should be hinged on science and technology. It is in the best interest of the country to make sure that we develop science and technology from the lower levels of education even starting from the kindergarten.

We have realised it as a problem that we only emphasise science and mathematics when pupils are now in secondary schools and therefore we will not be able to produce engineers, scientists, electricians and so on because science and mathematics is required in those particular fields and those are the ones that develop the nation. It is in the best interest of the country that we make sure that every student who is enrolled in university has an appreciation of science and mathematics.

You will realise that we have a problem of unemployment. The unemployment is actually emanating from us allowing more students to enroll in commercials and humanities because they do not have science and mathematics. The knowledge economy therefore, requires us to make sure that we create new industries and allow certain industries to die. Science and technology will develop this country if we take it seriously. I am very pleased that our sister Ministry, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has actually implemented in the new curriculum that science and technology, technical and vocational subjects becomes key. I agree and want to answer the hon. senator saying, yes, we are moving towards mainstreaming science and technology, science and mathematics popularly known as STEM, (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) in our education system so that we are able to drive the economy hinged on science and technology.

We are actually going further to say, we are going to direct our universities to reduce the number of enrolment in terms of social sciences and humanities and increase our sciences, engineering and mathematics. It will take us a very long time because we have low uptake in our engineering and science courses in universities because we have allowed our students or pupils – when I was still at school, we used to call it ‘dropping.’ I am allowed to ‘drop’ mathematics, geography or science and choose other subjects.

As a Government, we are saying that these subjects that drive the economy and shape the future of a student must be compulsory. You must have science and mathematics. However, to those who are not academically gifted, we are saying after completion of the degree, you do not have employment. Many of our graduates in sciences and mathematics are on demand everywhere, be it in the country or regionally. If you have a graduate student today, we do not have more teachers, for example in Matebeleland North, we have a couple of physics, chemistry and science teachers. Why then should we promote subjects or courses that will give us unemployment rather than promoting the sciences so that our children get employment after graduation? I thank you Mr. President.

SENATOR MLOTSHWA: Thank you Mr. President. After the presentation by the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development, I thought of a question for the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. In May this year, the Permanent Secretary in your Ministry visited Matebeleland South. We discovered that out of 28 schools in Matobo District, only three are teaching science subjects. It also means that only three schools have teachers in the science subjects. I think that we are lagging behind. I want to know from your Ministry, do you have a certain percentage of schools that are supposed to be teaching science subjects in a province or district? I thank you.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT: May you please ask direct questions.

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): Thank you hon. President of the Senate. I thank the hon. member for the question. I think it is not a question of saying, do you have a certain percentage of schools that should teach science. My expectation is that all schools should teach science, mathematics and technical vocational subjects.

The new curriculum is premised on this undertaking; you will ask me immediately, ‘do you have enough teachers?’ My response will also be immediate; last year we launched the Teacher Capacity Development Programme, and I spoke about it here. It is underway and I am stocking it with an additional 2500 teachers by the end of the year so that we have 5000 teachers studying those disciplines. Meanwhile, a trigger mechanism to our counterparts in higher and tertiary education has gone out to say the new breed they are producing for us should have these prerequisites.

Previously, teachers have enjoyed what is called Ministry Development Leave (MDL), where they were paid and went out to study and so on. I will tell you something, the employer has removed the component where teachers remain on salaries, but teachers have not stopped studying in those areas because they understand that the areas have the future. So, there will be individual effort, even at no pay, teacher capacity development and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education Science and Technology Development and its institutions, feeding into that.

As part of the effort of mainstreaming the new curriculum, I have also obtained the necessary authority from Cabinet and it has agreed that we must work at retention allowances for the mathematics, science and technical vocational teachers. The hon. senators will remember a few weeks back in September, I had an education conference in this country, which brought in the Botswana Minister, Namibian Minister and the South African side, where our teachers are and because we are friends in the region. We are a community of Southern African Development Community (SADC). They have agreed that we share information and I am expecting to receive a complete databases of our people in those countries because we are sharing among friends.

If Botswana has an excess number of technical vocational teachers, I would want to borrow some of them and if the excess is on my side I will also want to facilitate on a Government to Government basis. We should be able to contain the matter. Yes, we are aware of the significance of these Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines and we are doing something about it. We are not just doing something but we are actually at the implementation level.

SENATOR KHUMALO: My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. What is Government policy concerning the leakage of examination papers as has happened in the past?

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): Hon. President of the Senate, I am a bit alarmed by the question because it presupposes these examinations are going to leak. If the hon. senator has advance information on these matters, I think I would like to meet her outside. As you know, our Grade Seven examinations have already started quietly and peacefully. We think that things are under control there.

Last year and the early part of this year, we began to explore technology-assisted security systems for the ordinary level and advanced level examinations. I think matters were taken to the tender board. Let me stop at that point. Thank you.

*SENATOR MAKORE: My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. Dr. Dokora.   We understand that that there are some plans that before pupils can proceed to advanced level after completing their ordinary level, they need to take a break and after going through the National Service Programme, they will then go for further education. Is it true or is it just rumour mongering? I do not know what they really mean because it is just rumours and we are told that before these learners may go for form 6, they may go for National Service and then after the National Service, they progress to Upper 6 or Form 6.

          *THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): Thank you Mr. President. The question which has been asked by the hon. senator, is Life Skill Orientation Programme. I am not very sure as to how we can explain this in our local languages. You can only understand Life Skill Orientation Programme if I make an explanation as to the way this is going to operate. But, this is just an example, we have schools which fall under trust schools and in the country, we have about 40 of them. These schools take their learners from form three to form four and they take them to places called Outward Bound in Nyanga and these learners go for four or five weeks. They will be playing games and sharpening up their skills. They might be looking at ways and means in which they may stay under difficult conditions. When we are talking in English, this is referred to as life hardening skills. When we look at Government schools, when they have appointed learners to be prefects, they take them out for orientation. We noticed that these primary schools take them to Scripture Unions. In Matabeleland, these prefects are taken to Matopos for their orientation because they will be inculcating in them leadership skills. They will be going out into the world so that they do not go blindly into the world they will be venturing into.

They need to have an excellent modus operandi in whatever it is they do. When a child has been appointed a prefect they will be aware of their responsibility and when they are going to ‘A’ level, they will not go blindly, not knowing what subjects to take and what profession they will lead to. So, that child will say I now want to go and study Bio-Chemistry and therefore, I need to go to a particular school which has what I know and what I want to be as a profession. This can only happen if the child has been exposed to such life saving skills and we are saying this should not only be a privilege of prefects or learners who are in private schools but all the children must be exposed to this. Like we are talking in Matabeleland South, we have a pioneer school which is saying it would want to operate hand in hand with the VID and the other traffic transportations so that during that period, the learners will be able to acquire driver’s licences and that is a life skill.

          Therefore, we should not say this should only be exposed to Form four learners but we are saying even the primary school children should be taken out and be exposed to the life skills which will be of some benefit to them in their future. They should be aware of the beneficiation and value addition skills which are available in the country. As the people in loco parentis, we are supposed to do that and by the time the learners go through ‘O’ Level, that student will have a driver’s licence and will be able to interact with any person at any level and as parents, we will also be able to appreciate what has been acquired by our learners.

          *SENATOR MASHAVAKURE: Thank you President. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education on what he has raised. In as far as I am concerned, what I think will be the best for these learners is that there should be a bonding arrangement in that if he has been given a loan to study at the university, if he is bonded, this learner will then go through 3 or 4 years whilst they make repayments for the money that they would have used. At times we have noticed that there are monies which are given to them amounting to US $1 200.00 or so but this will only increase the expense. I think it is best to bond the learners on completion of their education.

*DR. DOKORA: I think the Hon. Senator Mashavakure, has given his view and I thank him for that.

SENATOR CHIMHINI: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. He has talked about capacity building in the schools. Can you inform this Senate whether there is also a programme for capacity building for School Development Associations or Committees? Things seem to be changing and these people are elected every year. You have also talked about advancement in education per se are you also capacitating SDCs so that they run these schools effectively. I thank you.

  1. DOKORA: Thank you Mr. President. I think to say that we should capacitate the SDCs so that they run these schools effectively will be to misplace our resources. They do not run my schools but they are meant to assist in mobilising resources. In fact, there are huge changes that are ahead of them. As I get down to implementing the new curriculum, we are looking hard at the SDCs structure.   I found in one school a whole hon. member sitting in there as the Chair of the SDC. How can we have this? Now you are suggesting that I should send them to school -[ Laughter.]-
  2. CHIMHINI: On a point of order.

THE ACTING PRESIDENT: Let him finish.

  1. DOKORA: I am saying that the implication of your question and thrust would mean me sending to school those that are occupying the current positions.

SENATOR CHIMHINI: That is the point of order Mr. President. My question is not asking you to send them to school. SDCs are part of the management of schools and you know better how they come in. So, my question is, how are they assisted to be given the capacity to make sure that what happens, including the education that they are not running the schools per se but I am saying they are part and parcel, they are a component in the management or administration of schools, whatever role you know better. So, can we get clarification? I am not asking you to create schools for them but I am saying do you have a programme for them, that is my question?

  1. DOKORA: I think the import of my response is correct because the senator quoted the Capacity Development Programme. Once you do that, I know what I am doing with that programme. I am sending people to school. So, I have no intention of sending SDCs to school. What we are going to be looking at is strengthening the management, administrative and financial accountabilities in the school system and we focus on the school head. We are looking at some of the powers that we gave to the SDCs with a view to revisiting them, streamlining them for a more efficient and effective delivery system of the new curriculum. Thank you.

          SENATOR MUMVURI: Thank you once again Mr. President. My question is directed to the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development. What is Government policy on those college students who are facing challenges and fail to pay their tuition on time? Do the colleges have the right to exclude them from lectures? Thank you.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (DR. GANDAWA): Thank you Mr. President and I want to thank Senator Mumvuri for a very pertinent question. It is very important that students or their guardians should pay fees on time to the college. This will enable us to run the institutions because those resources are required but we do not encourage our institutions of higher learning to chase away students who will not have paid their fees. But we must also understand that when students are in colleges, they are provided with food and that food must be purchased. In most cases then if we allow them to attend college without having paid, it means we will run short of food to feed them. It is then necessary to make sure that students are encouraged to make arrangements in terms of what we call payment plans with the college authorities so that they are able at least to pay installments whilst they learn.  

          On humanitarian basis, all our colleges now have a programme in which we allow our students to work for their fees. This is a programme obtaining in our institutions. Instead of us hiring people to clear our grounds, we have other colleges that have farms, instead of us hiring labourers to come and work in our college farms, we allow the students to work in the fields.        We allow the students to work in our grounds and then we say they are paying for their fees. This is a situation obtaining in all our institutions. So, you would find in many of our institutions students graduating without paying a single cent directly but they would have paid indirectly by working for their fees. So, all our institutions are doing that.

          Mr. President, we have also encouraged through the students’ union representations; they have created a fund, students themselves.   Mr. President, you see even when they are graduating, sometimes I always ask when we are officiating, you hear them ululate a lot when someone is passing through, then when the other one is passing through they do not ululate. So, I ask, why are they cheering this one and they are not cheering that one. They will tell you these students have had social problems, they have had problems of paying fees and they managed to raise fees for their colleagues through fund raising activities so that they help those students that are disadvantaged that do not have funds.  We are using a number of strategies to make sure that our students get funding and they complete their studies.

Mr. President, as a Government and a Ministry, we are in the process of engaging various stakeholders, including banks. We are at an advanced stage with Agribank to make sure that they assist our students in college to pay for the fees especially the teacher training colleges. We do not have much problems with the teacher training colleges because their job is guaranteed after completion of their programme. In our schools, we need the teachers. So, we are sure that they will work for the Government and SSB will deduct the money towards the fees. We also have other arrangements especially in teachers’ colleges again, where our students on teaching practice get some allowance from Government through the SSB. So, sometimes we allow them to go through the course and then when they are on their teaching practice, they will be earning a salary. So, SSB deducts money on their salary towards their fees for the last year and they come back in college. So, there are a number of interventions that we are doing to make sure that all our students that are enrolled in our institutions at least complete their programmes once enrolled. I thank you Mr. President - [HON.SENATORS: Hear, hear].

  1. D. T KHUMALO: Thank you Mr. President. My question is directed to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. It is on the use of cellphones as part of education and technology in primary schools.

THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): I do not know Mr. President, how many times I must be asked this question. I had offered to the senators an opportunity to take a tour of one of my schools. It may be better that way, so that we take you to Harare High School, you go there, spend some time, actually see in practice what we are talking about, otherwise we will be talking about cellphones forever. Mr. President, when I use the language smart phone, I am not understood. So, really I want to leave the invitation on the table. But with due respect to the hon. senator, I will say that when we talk about computer technologies in the education sector, we are not talking about what in Shona they call tumbudzi and in Ndebele izinyane, that is not what we are talking about, the kind of thing that make a voice call and then voice response and that is all, we are talking about smart phones. Smart phones are mini- computers. Many of you are holding mini computers and we can harness many computers in a school for educational purposes, not those things you are referring to. A headmaster is quite legitimate when confiscating those cellphones and saying these are disruptive things, remove them from the school.   But smart phones are already tools you can place in a laboratory and control; I am referring to your tablets, iPads. These are the things we are talking about. I have never expressed an opinion saying torai tumbudzi muende natwo kuchikoro, no, to me it is not even an issue. So, really, I want to leave the invitation to actually visit a school and see how teachers control the scene and how the kids are able to surf the net, very safely for that matter. Thank you.

SENATOR T. D. KHUMALO: I understand, children had some S3s and 4s which were taken at schools because they are not supposed to come to school. My question is, is that ‘tumbudzi?’

  1. DOKORA: The quick response Mr. President is that, you can take a smart phone and use it like ‘kambudzi’ because you have no other business with it except phoning and receiving calls, ‘kari kuopareta sekambudzi.’ Thus, every school has a policy on ICT integration in education. Thank you.

          *SENATOR MACHINGAIFA: Thank you Mr. President, for giving me the opportunity to ask my question. I am directing my question to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. You said you invited stakeholders on the construction of schools in the country so that they put up their monies for these schools and construct them. After building these schools, they hand them over to the Government. We notice that they want more schools in towns. Do these stakeholders select areas where they want to construct schools or are you going to allocate some of them to come to rural areas because many will favour urban areas?

          *DR. DOKORA: Thank you Mr. President for letting me respond to this question. All areas which have been set aside for the construction of schools are known by the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. In 2013, when we drew up a map and strategies for dealing with the school deficit, I have already made reference to the fact that some schools are under local councils, Government and the private sector. We are well aware of the fact that we have enough money to construct 21 schools and we know which areas are in much need of these schools.

In areas like the resettlement areas, there are no schools. You are aware that the colonial regime did not construct schools in these farms. Now that we have resettled people there, they need to have schools within the vicinity instead of letting these learners travel long distances to get education. We want them to be near schools but we also look forward to getting assistance from the residents of the areas in construction of these schools. We no longer have the whites but we have the Mashavakures and others in those areas. Therefore, they should stand up so that we construct these schools. There is a schools development policy for new schools as we get enough resources.

Questions Without Notice were interrupted by the ACTING PRESIDENT in terms of Standing Order Number 34.

ORAL ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS WITH NOTICE

MEASURES ON EQUIPPING TEACHERS WHO DEAL WITH VISUALLY IMPAIRED LEARNERS

  1. SENATOR MASHAVAKURE asked the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development the measures that the Ministry is taking to ensure that the Department of Special Education at the United College of Education in Bulawayo is capacitated well enough to be able to equip teachers who go on to staff schools and resource centres for the blind to be able to deal effectively with Braille mathematics, Braille science including Braille diagrams so that they are of maximum benefit of the visually impaired learners under their charge.

          THE DEPUTY MINISTER OF HIGHER AND TERTIARY EDUCATION, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT (DR. GANDAWA): Thank you very much Mr. President. I want to thank Senator Mashavakure for a very pertinent question concerning the training of teachers for learners with visual impairment.

          Mr. President, allow me to inform this august Senate that my Ministry is very much concerned with the need to increase access to education by learners who are visually impaired. This need is in line with the findings and recommendations of the Presidential Commission of Enquiry into Education and Training spearheaded by His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Cde. R.G. Mugabe in 1999. In tandem with this proclamation, Section 83 of the new Constitution of Zimbabwe (2013) stipulates that the State must take appropriate measures to provide special facilities for the education of such critical people. To that end Mr. President, my Ministry has mainstreamed / captured the need to increase access to education by such learners in its strategic plan.

          Mr. President, in pursuit of this goal, United College of Education is strengthening the training of specialist teachers for the visually impaired at both primary and secondary levels. To date, the United College of Education has established an empowerment centre where student teachers can undertake research and are capacitated with skills, knowledge and positive attitudes to use braille and handle learners with visual impairment.

To support this empowerment drive, the college has about 20 braille machines and three embossers that are used to transcribe information from braille to appropriate language and vice-versa. The student teachers are taught practical sessions on how to use braille in teaching and learning processes. They practice and write examinations in braille to test their competences during the period they are under training. During teaching practice, student teachers are also attached to schools and centres where they are guided by qualified personnel on how to teach using braille to consolidate skills gained from college.

          Mr. President, my Ministry subscribes to the notion that technology can be used to increase access to education for the visually impaired. Technology can make learning interesting and easier for the learners to understand scientific principles and concepts. In an effort to strengthen the teaching of various subject areas which include mathematics and science, the college has procured software that can be used to aid the teaching of such subjects. To that end Mr. President, my Ministry has sourced US$40 000 from ZIMDEF for the procurement of assistive devices as UCE.

ITEM

QUANTITY

UNIT PRICE US$

TOTAL COST US$

Tactile Graphic Production (Thermoform)

1

2400

2400

Victor Readers

5

680

3800

A4 Slate and stylus

21

24

504

11cm x 11.4 brailon duplicating paper (zytex 2 AM1)

10 boxes

180

1800

Eye pal solo key pad

1

210

210

Document camera scanners

2

2500

5000

Prodigy duo 24 (for print enlargement)

1

4800

4800

Loview 7” HD

1

1865

1865

Perkins Braille machines

10

1480

14800

Crutches

5

70

350

Digital voice recorders (brilliant 32)

1

3370

3370

e-readers

2

350

500

Wheel chairs

2

200

400

Collapside canes

20

10

200

Total Cost

 

 

US$39 999

 

Armed with such knowledge and skills, we believe that the visually impaired learners can also contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development in Zimbabwe.

          Mr. President, I am happy to inform you that United College of Education has also established partnerships to promote horizontal and vertical learning for specialist teachers for the visually impaired. To that end, UCE has a partnership with organisations such as Dorothy Duncan Centre and VVOB (Flemish Association for Development Cooperation and Technical Assistance) where lecturers and student teachers are capacitated through workshops on how to use braille and related software.

          Mr. President. Let me take this opportunity to inform the Senate that although we are armed with the desire to strengthen education for the visually impaired, we face some challenges. As a Ministry, we have since noted that some of the braille machines are now old and my Ministry has started to resuscitate these old machinery as mentioned earlier. We have also noted that some of the specialist equipment is very expensive and cannot be found in the local market.

          The challenge is further compounded by the liquidity crunch we are currently facing as a nation, resulting in limited financial resources in my Ministry to purchase more equipment and train more personnel, hence ZIMDEF is very key. It is against this background, that we will soon approach the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and other stakeholders to assist us to import more equipment. We also appeal to other potential partners to come on board to help us in sourcing the much needed equipment for students with disabilities in higher and tertiary instructions.

          Mr. President, may I take this opportunity to inform this august Senate that my Ministry does not only support UCE to promote education for learners with visual impairment. My Ministry has also assisted Mutare Teachers’ College to establish a Disability Resource Centre. The centre is equipped with appropriate assistive devices such as braille machines, embossers and software used in the training of secondary school teachers who are visually impaired. My Ministry also provides an annual grant to Kapota School for the blind in Masvingo. To this effect, in 2013 ZIMDEF provided US$30 000; in 2014 US$20 000 and in 2015 US$20 000 has already been released. By this, I hope you see our efforts to empower and capacitate our people with visual impairment. I thank you Mr. President.

FINANCING OF GRADE 7 EXAMINATIONS

  1. SENATOR MASHAVAKURE asked the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to consider deducting a dollar or two per pupil, per grade, per term from the School Development Association/Committee Levy without increasing amounts from current charges, to finance the printing, running and general administration of Grade 7 examinations in view of the fact that all pupils will sit for the examination at the end of their primary level education.

          THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (DR. DOKORA): The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in an effort to make examination administration for Grade 7 more efficient and effective, has issued a Finance Circular (Number 4) of 2015 through the Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council. The circular states that Cabinet approved a gradual collection arrangement of $1 per term, per pupil at Grade 6 Term 2 for 2015 for examinations to be written in 2016. So much about forward planning, is it not? The current stock of Grade 7 were expected also to begin to pay US$1 per term beginning Term 2 of 2015.

          This arrangement is not a burden to the parents as the payment is staggered to a $1 per term per pupil in the affected grades. The logic and common sense approach was based on the tried and tested part-payment system for school levies.

          The arrangement of paying on time will allow Grade 7 examiners who are teachers to be paid on time, those that supply ancillary services such as accommodation and catering for markers also can be paid on time and ZIMSEC will also produce examination results on time.

          As I speak on the floor of this august Senate, just over 324 000 learners are fully accounted for and are happily writing their Grade 7 examinations. This is 6% more candidates than in 2014. We are at more than 60% rate with Grade 6 for 2016 examinations. The hon. senator will appreciate that the only name suitable for this arrangement is efficiency and effectiveness. I thank you.

          *THE ACTING PRESIDENT: I want on behalf of the Senate to thank the Minister and the Deputy Minister for availing themselves to answer questions today. Had they not done so, probably we would have adjourned the Senate very early. Thank you very much for that.

ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE ACTING PRESIDENT

SUSPENSION OF THEMATIC COMMITTEES BUSINESS

          THE ACTING PRESIDENT: May I take this opportunity to inform the Senate that Thematic Committees will stand adjourned to Monday, 19th October, 2015.

          On the motion of SENATOR MASUKU, seconded by SENATOR MUMVURI, the Senate adjourned at Ten Minutes to Four o’clock p.m. until Tuesday, 20th October, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last modified on Thursday, 08 October 2015 17:35
Senate Hansard SENATE HANSARD 08 OCTOBER 2015 VOL 25 NO 08