Cabinet has approved the construction of public boarding schools, starting with the first phase in 2022, which will see the birth of 144 new schools.
The schools, which are being built by the IMF SDR funds that Zimbabwe received, are meant to ensure that the provision of boarding school services are not left in the hands of private players and churches.
Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa, said there has been a sharp increase in learner enrolment necessitating the need for new primary and secondary schools.
Minister Mutsvangwa added that currently, there are 9 778 schools, with 6 798 primary and 2 980 being secondary schools, and a total enrolment of 4 659 993.
Only 1.9% of the 6 798 primary schools are boarding schools, with only 35 of these being Government-owned.
Of the 2 980 secondary schools, only 10.6% are boarding schools and only 60 are owned by Government.
The boarding secondary schools can only accommodate 24 000 learners, a mere 0.52% of the current enrolment.
“The demand for education continues rising, with 37.3% of the country’s estimated total population being of school-going age. More schools are needed to accommodate the projected increase to 5 657 412 for the school-going age group,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Early August the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Professor Mthuli Ncube, indicated that Treasury will deploy its share of close to US$1 billion equivalent of SDRs to different infrastructure and economic recovery projects – including the construction of schools.
This was partly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic it has increased the demand for new schools and additional school infrastructure so as to decongest existing boarding schools.
Some existing day schools will be turned into boarding schools, while some low-cost boarding facilities will be constructed at existing schools as the need arises.
“The project will be implemented in phases next year starting with one hundred and forty four (144) model 21st Century Government primary and secondary boarding schools spread across all the country’s 10 provinces. One primary and one secondary boarding school with adequate state of the art facilities will be constructed in each of the seventy two districts of the country,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“Adequate Furniture and ICT equipment will be procured for each school, while a source of clean potable water will be installed within 500 metres of the school and including a reticulation system and ablution facilities. Each school will be electrified and provided with internet facilities. The school will be fenced, and civil works in terms of access roads, a car park and landscaping will be undertaken. Each school will have enough land for sport infrastructure, commercial farming and manufacturing,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Treasury will fund the first one hundred and forty-four schools, while Public- Private or joint venture arrangements will be made to assist in the construction of the three thousand new schools required.
Under the new dispensation, 153 schools have been built and plans are afoot to build 16 more this year.