INDICATORS FOR CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
ZIMBABWE COUNTRY CASE STUDY
INVIOLATA CHINYANGARA, ISRAEL CHOKUWENGA, ROSELYN G. DETE, LINDA DUBE, JOSHUA KEMBO, PRECIOUS MOYO & RATIDZAI SHARON NKOMO
6. Development and education
This chapter makes a particular effort to link the Health and the Education Sectors. For example we examined why the health system tends to focus almost always on children under five years of age and not on school aged children (five -15 years) . However, it is not difficult to speculate. It seems that as soon as children are about four years old they are expected to be in Early Childhood Education and Care, from which at age five, six or seven years, they graduate into primary education. After primary education they then graduate into secondary education., although data on education indicate that there are significant drop outs between Grade 7 and Form 1, although the situation is continually improving. This is particularly specific to the girl child. At the completion of secondary education most students are aged between 16 and 17 years. Thus the time children are getting over their childhood in terms of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child they will be starting to explore career development.
Data on children’s health in Zimbabwe
Data on health are readily available and accessible through the various departments in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, such as the National Program of Action for children, the department of Maternal Health and Child Welfare, and the Epidemiology Section. Some of the data were obtained from the Central Statistical Office (CSO). The data were mostly obtained from population census reports as well as the Demographic and Health Surveys, conducted in 1988 and 1994. Other health data were also sourced from agencies such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Health Priorities and Programmes
Government priorities in the health sector are to provide health services for all, hence the adoption of the slogan ‘health for all by the 2000’. The emphasis is on the eradication of communicable diseases – which often are the result of unsanitary living conditions, lack of protected water supplies, and malnutrition. However, because of the escalating problems of AIDS and the recurrent droughts and the subsequent impact these have on the national economy seem to make the goal of health for all by the year 2000 a dream. The National Health Service in the country is established at four levels:
Primary Health Care is the main ‘vehicle’ through which health care programmes are implemented in the country. The main components of Primary Health Care (PHC) include: maternal and child health services; health education; nutrition education; and food production; expanded program on immunization; communicable diseases control; water and sanitation; essential drugs program; and the provision of basic and essential preventive and curative care. The majority of health services in Zimbabwe are provided by the public sector (Ministry of Health and Local Government, both in the urban and rural areas).
These are complimented by Mission and Private facilities in rural and urban areas respectively. Health service is integrated so that every health facility offers the full range of available services at any time, that is, both preventive and curative services are offered at the same time. This is the so-called ‘supermarket approach’, where the whole range of health services is available under one roof at the same time. All health facilities are supposed to operate on this principle. Under this approach, every health facility offers the full range of maternal and child health services (MCH), including family planning.
The government is pursuing the policy of equity in health as a means of achieving the goal of ‘health for all by the year 2000’ with following objectives:
reduce the total fertility rate from 5.5 to 4.5 children per woman;
increase the effectiveness of health service in order to improve health of mothers and children;
focus on rationalizing the prevention, control and management of communicable and non-communicable diseases;
upgrade facilities in each district and where necessary construct new ones;
improve working conditions of health personnel;
strengthen the Rural Health Care delivery system;
improve preventive health services;
strengthen health management;
In general, the issue of children is subsumed within the issue of maternal health. Children seem not to stand out on their own clearly as a focus of attention in health policy formulation or in the health service delivery system.
The Mid Decade Goals for Children’s Survival
Zimbabwe has the programme to meet the ten Mid-Decade Goals for children’s survival and development endorsed at the 1990 World Summit for children and the 1991 Organization of African Unity International Conference on Assistance to African Children held in Dakar, Senegal. The ten Mid-Decade Goals involve the Extended Program of Immunization, which is to be achieved as follows:
raise immunization coverage for all antigens to at least 80%;
eliminate neo-natal tetanus;
reduce measles deaths by 95% and cases by 90%;
eradicate polio in key areas;
increase the use of Oral Rehydration Therapy to 80%, and continue feeding as part of the program to help control diarrhoea;
increase breast feeding, by making maternity hospitals ‘baby friendly’ and end free and low cost supply of breast milk substitutes to health care systems;
eradicate diseases related to Iodine Deficiency, by achieving universal iodization of salt;
eliminate Vitamin A Deficiency and its consequences;
eradicate Guinea worm disease;
ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child and promote the Convention and ensure its application.
The stepping stone goals are:
malnutrition – to be reduced by 20 percent
education – increase enrolment, retention and gender equity in primary schools.
water and sanitation – ensure access to safe drinking water and sanitation for more people.
The Mid-Decade Goals were to be achieved through the focus of the childhood status indicators such as health status indicators of the under five’s which include such indicators as growth monitoring and nutrition; birth weights; incidence of acute respiratory infections, etc. Where indicators of status of the under five’s are considered they are very much child centered and such indicators are looked at to some extent here and there comparatively at the national level to expose areas that need attention.
The monitoring of children’s welfare is subsumed within the issue of maternal health. In some instances it means that a healthy mother leads to a healthy child, in which case the child is a passive beneficiary. This is very clear in the cases of immunizing expectant mothers for Tetanus Toxoid. In fact the government feels all chances of immunizing women should be taken advantage of even immunizing those women who are not pregnant, such as women coming for family planning or bringing children for immunization. But because of lack of possession of the TT cards to prove immunization there is therefore a low rate of TT immunization.
Another factor is to ensure that women deliver in a health facility. The purpose of a health facility is not for women to receive technical assistance but also to ensure that they also get information and this is more important than the technical services offered by health facilities. But as things are at the moment more women go to health facilities for technical assistance than for information. This state of affairs means that there is need to ensure that mothers in generally, but more specifically expectant mothers receive health education.
While in some cases it means that the mother will delivery certain services for the good of her child or in fact monitor the growth and well-being of her child. The latter is very clear in some measures such a s the following:
Growth monitoring, in which case mothers are assessed of the growth line, the average number of times weight was plotted in the first three years of their child’s life;
monitoring of environmental health (water and sanitation and home hygiene) and the home level use of health services;
environmental health basically covers such issues as water supply, the distance to the water supply from the home, and the nature of the water reservoir whether protected or not etc., as well as cover issues of sanitation such as toilet facilities, soak-away of excess water facilities, pot racks and waste disposal facilities such as pits;
the home level use of health services covers the use of such people as Village Health Workers (VHWs), Traditional Midwives (TMs) and the knowledge of, preparation and use of the Oral Rehydration Therapy.
Generally data on the health of children in Zimbabwe is confined only to the under five’s. There are virtually no data on the health of those children whose ages range from 6 to 18 years. Data on health focus mostly on women of child bearing age and children aged five and below (the under five’s). Of the two more emphasis is put on the mother who takes care of the ‘useless’ infant. It is not clear what is the state’s position concerning those children age above five to 18 years.
Availability and affordability of drugs
The Zimbabwe Essential Drugs Action Program (ZEDAP) Survey has since its inception in 1986 been important in monitoring the supply and availability of drugs. ZEDAP’s major objectives are to:
ensure availability of low cost good quality essential drugs and
ensure optimal and rational use of drugs
For this reason the surveys have focused on two areas namely:
drug availability and
rational drug use.
For the ZEDAP surveys to be worth it and for them to live up to their expectations they are carried out once in a year or once in one and a half years, and they build from where the last survey cut-off. The Zimbabwe Essential Drugs Action Program (ZEDAP) Survey of 1995 indicates that generally drug availability is still below target, almost unchanged since 1993.
The survey shows that only 46% of the surveyed health facilities met the target at 80% availability. The survey found high availability of vaccines (at 90%). For the first time the 1995 survey included vaccines, especially vaccines for the immunization of children. The overall availability of vaccines was found to be good and higher than for other vital drugs, 90% compared to 83% respectively. Below are the figures of availability for the seven vaccines for children surveyed.
FIFO basically refers to First In First Out. It means that the first drug to be in was the first used drug. This is important to ensure that no drugs are lost through expiry. FIFO ensures sound management of drugs. Thus in the above table it is clear that drugs for children were managed well at the time of the survey. Availability of vaccines is essential for a successful immunization program.
Monitoring and Evaluation
From the data on monitoring it seems very clear that what is termed monitoring in the Ministry of Health is basically research to investigate what changes have taken place since the last research. This seems to be incremental research.
Monitoring of the health system is done mostly through the National Health Information System (NHIS). A vital registration system is also in place but its coverage is very low, being estimated at less than 25 percent. The vital registration operates more efficiently in the urban than in the rural areas.
Some of the health related specific mechanisms for monitoring health programmes are as follows:
i) HFA Monitoring Exercise: This is being done once in a two year period;
ii) Third Household Survey using AFRO 27 Health Indicators. There have so far been three surveys in 1988, 1990 and 1993;
iii) Development in 1993, of a set of Health Indicators to Monitor various on-going Health Programmes and Projects. The national Health Information Steering Committee was resuscitated to look into the issue of health indicators as part of its terms of reference.
Four working groups were chosen from the committee to work on the following health indicators:
health status indicators
health service utilization indicators
quality of care indicators
Various mechanisms are available to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to evaluate the health service delivery system in the country. Community based surveys are done mostly to evaluate coverage of maternal and child health services. These were done in 1984, 1988, 1991 and 1996. The Central Statistics Office does regular population censuses, which also produce valuable health-related data as on child, maternal mortality, literacy rate, data on water and sanitation etc.
The last census in the country was done in 1992. The Central Statistical Office carries out regular Demographic and Health Surveys). The last such survey was conducted in 1994. Regularly, the Central Statistical Office also organizes Indicator Monitoring Surveys which include health indicators. The last such study was done in 1994.
However, it is noted that these which are used mechanism to monitor the health delivery system, are not conducted with the child as the unit of measurement and analysis. Rather they refer to the total population at large. This is a major limitation in terms of the potential of these mechanism in monitoring children’s health in the country.
The health and socio-economic status of children is usually assessed by a review of the following indices: infant mortality rate, child mortality rate, and the life expectancy at birth.
Life Expectancy at Birth
Life expectancy at birth is the average number of years that a new born baby is expected to live. The life expectancy at birth according to the 1992 population census for both males and females was 57 years in 1978 and 61 years in 1992. The chances of survival for both sexes seem to have decreased after 1988. This could be attributed to the increase in the incidence of HIV/AIDS and the hardships caused by the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP). Comparison by gender shows that females enjoy a higher life expectancy than their male counterparts. Urban residents also have a higher life expectancy at birth than rural dwellers. (63 years and 60 years, respectively, for 1990).
Trends in Infant and Child Mortality
Perhaps because of the health strategies put in place soon after independence, mortality in children had decreased to the lowest levels towards the end of the 1980s. It seems to have leveled off in the 1990s, and no further declines seem be occurring. Another explanation could be declining funds, in real terms, available to the health sector since the introduction of the economic reform programme. The mortality situation seems to be worse off in rural areas and commercial farming areas as compared to urban areas. In general, child survival prospects have not improved since the late 1980’s. It is further observed that as from the 1990’s there has been a stagnation of childhood mortality in the country (Central Statistical Office, 1995).
Main Causes of Childhood Mortality
According to the Ministry of Health Report of 1995, measles was prominent as a cause of infant mortality in the early 1980’s, but no longer features in the 1990’s. This can be attributed to the success of the immunization programme. The 1994 Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey found that 80 percent of children aged 12-23 months are fully vaccinated against the major childhood diseases, 67 percent before the first birthday.
Tuberculosis appears among the top ten diseases in the 1990’s, due to significant association with HIV/AIDS. Again, malnutrition has continued to feature prominently among the causes of death in children. The situation has been made worse in the 1990’s by the severe droughts of 1992 and 1995.
There is considerable debate in the country about the true maternal mortality rate. The two surveys done at community level (the national census in 1992 and the ZDHS in 1994) have shown a rate above 250 maternal deaths per 100000 live births.. However the difference between the two is quite significant (395 and 283) for the 1992 population census and 1994 ZDHS respectively). A community case – reference study done in Masvingo province in 1989 showed a maternal mortality rate of 168 for the rural women in the province.
These figures all point to a relatively high level of maternal mortality in the country. While maternal mortality seems to have declined in the 1980’s, it has been steadily increasing since 1990, based on routine data collected by the Ministry of Health. The reasons for this are not clear, though the increasing AIDS epidemic and growing economic hardships might be responsible for some of the deaths.
The Expanded Programme of Immunization was launched soon after the attainment of independence in the country in 1980. The programme gained much momentum in the 1980s , reaching a peak in 1989.
Data from the Maternal and Child Health and Family Planning (MCH/FP) Coverage Survey conducted in 1991 advances ten reasons for either not receiving or not completing immunization:
vaccine not available;
postponed until another time;
place of immunization too far;
mother too busy;
family problem, including illness;
unaware of need for immunization;
unaware of need for second dose;
child ill not brought;
The three standard indices of physical growth of children are used. The 1994 Demographic and Health Survey looked at children aged under 3 years, whereas the 1988 survey considered children aged under five years. Therefore the figures are not strictly comparable. With the above caution in mind, it is apparent that acute malnutrition has increased in 1994 compared to 1988. the main reason for this rise in acute malnutrition could be the prevailing drought conditions in 1992 to 1995. In 18992 the worst drought this century occurred and by the time the Demographic and Health Survey was conducted the country had not fully recover.
HIV Infection and AIDS
Zimbabwe was one of the first countries in the world to recognize HIV/AIDS and offer protective measures. Sentinel surveillance for HIV shows that 17% to 25% of antenatal patients were positive in 1993. AIDS has thus become the number one health problem in the country. In 1987, a total of 119 AIDS cases were reported to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
Figures for cumulative AIDS cases since 1987 show that the age group zero to four years is the most affected among children with males having more incidence of the disease than their female counterparts. This might be attributed to the fact that most of these children are infected at or before birth. The five to 14 year age range is the least affected. Among the children in the 15 to 19 year age group, males show a higher incidence of infection than females. As at the end of 1994 there were 41 298 cumulative cases of AIDS. However, the National AIDS Coordination Programme (NACP) considers this figure an underestimate and that the true number of cases is above 150 000. Training on HIV/AIDS is integrated into different training curriculum which also encompasses (Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, 1995).
A study commissioned by the Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) in 1994 on the problems facing youth in Zimbabwe revealed that the main problems faced were:
sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS arising from lack of knowledge on prevention and contraceptive use;
unwanted pregnancies arising from premarital sex;
abortions arising from unwanted pregnancies;
drug abuse arising from peer pressure;
incest and child abuse arising from more permissive society.
In fact, most of the problems of adolescents are directly or indirectly related to sexuality. Unfortunately, the AIDS epidemic is also taking its toll on the adolescents, particularly the girl child. More than 80 percent of AIDS cases in teenagers are in girl children.
If the issue of adolescent sexuality and fertility is a significant issue in Zimbabwe. It is possible to monitor it with a view to control risks to young mothers as well as controlling the high fertility rate of the country’s population. In fact it has been noted that retaining women within the education system and career development for a little longer delays the age at which women give birth to their first child.
Adolescent fertility is an important measure of both teenage health and social status. Children born to very young mothers are at increased risk of sickness and death. Adolescent mothers themselves are most likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes and in addition, are more constrained in their ability to pursue educational opportunities than young women who delay childbearing.
According to the Zimbabwe Demographic and Health Survey (1994), the proportion of adolescents who were already mothers was 15%, while another 5% were pregnant. The survey noted that the proportion of adolescents already on pathway to family formation rises rapidly with age, from 3% at age 15, to 44% at age 19. The survey further noted that rural adolescents and those with less education tend to start child bearing earlier.
The median age at first marriage in Zimbabwe has risen slowly from 18.9 years among women aged 40 to 49 to 19.8 years among women aged 20 to 24 (representing recent marital patterns). The proportion of women married by the age 15 declined from 11% among those aged 15 to 19 years. Ovarial, 62% of Zimbabwean women currently aged 25 to 49 years were married by age 20 years.
The median age at first sexual intercourse for women and teenage girls has risen slowly in recent years from 18.0 years for cohort age 30 to 34 to 18.8 years for cohort age 20 to 24 years. This corresponds roughly to the one year rise in age at first marriage discussed above. Among women in the 15 to 19 year age group, 70% had never had sex. This proportion drops to 17% for women age 20 to 24, and by age 25 to 29 years, almost all women have become sexually active. The data from males shows a different picture, one of decreasing age at first sex from about 21.0 years in the cohort currently aged 50 to 54 years to 18.7 years for the cohort age 20 to 24 years.
The median age at first sex for men (all ages) is 19.6 years, compared with 18.3 years for women. Although men enter into marriage, on average, 6 years later than women, they start sexual relations only 16 months later than women. Looking at trends over age cohorts, it can be seen that through difference in the median age at first sex between men and women has declined considerably from over 20 months in the cohort age 45 to 49 years, to only 7 months for the cohort age 25 to 29 years, to essentially no difference in the cohort age 20 to 24 years.
Data on health and development: some comments
The Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 24 discusses the importance of primary health care and preventive work. Furthermore Article 24.2 (d) focuses on the need to provide ante-natal and post natal services for mothers including pregnant girls. This is also spelt out clearly in the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, especially in Article 14.
It is very clear that the Health System of Zimbabwe is structured in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter. Furthermore, the health system has done relatively well until the introduction of the structural adjustment programme which is said to be eroding the gains that were made in this sector.
However, one silent issue in the data on the health of children is the role of the father. In African set up it is difficult to urge fathers to take part in household chores for the benefit of their children. From the data and the emphasis on the under-fives it makes the issue of child health appears to be very much a household chore – a role to be performed by women. As the child grows it seems that her role changes from that of being part of the household chores into the education system and at this time his or her health is less of an issue to be monitored. The issue of the registration of children although not a health issue seems to be very much tied with the issue of the dominance of the figure (See Chapter 1). The question is who registers the birth of a child?. Article 18.3 in the African Charter clearly spells out that no child shall be deprived of maintenance by reference to the parents’ marital status. In this case it is not maintenance through material support but the mere registration of the birth of a human being.
One issue that is important but is less prominent in the data on health is the issue of adolescent sexuality. From the data above, it is clear that there is a significant number of girls below the age of 15 or who are 15 who fall pregnant. Furthermore, with data on child sexual abuse emerging it would be important to explore the linkage between adolescent pregnancies and child sexual abuse. The question to ask is do all girls who fall pregnant have stable sexual relations or were they abused? Infant and under-five mortality rates indicate that there has been a stagnation in the decline of childhood mortality in the country. Various factors which include the erratic rainfall pattern in the country, HIV/AIDS epidemic as well as the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme have contributed to this scenario.
Education system and policies
Before independence, there were two educational systems based on race. Education for blacks was mainly to serve the interests of the minority and thus there were a few educational facilities for blacks especially in the rural areas were the bulk of the population lived. ‘Non- black children were required to attend school up to the age of sixteen years, while less than 50 percent of black children of school going age ever had the chance to attend school’ (Auret, 1995).
At independence (1980) Zimbabwe witnessed a massive expansion in the education sector. Primary education was free and expansion in terms of facilities also began. According to Diana Auret, ‘the target established was that every child should have a primary school within five kilometers of his/her home , and a secondary school within eleven kilometers’.This was an endeavor to improve access and participation by the majority of the people who had ,for a long time been denied a fair participation in education.
Primary education experienced a massive expansion in education sector in response to government policy of ensuring access to schools by all children. This was also accompanied by the establishment of more primary schools and improvements of the infrastructure. There was however a policy shift since 1980 from quantitative to qualitative expansion. To absorb children leaving primary schools, the government shifted to establishing more secondary schools.
In Zimbabwe, the objective is that primary education for every school going age shall be compulsory and to this end it shall be duty for the parents of any such child attends primary school. Zimbabwe is strongly committed to the principle of primary education for all by the year 2000.This is in line with Article 3 of the Jomtien Declaration which emphasizes that ‘ basic education should be provided to all children, youth and adults. To this end, basic education services of quality should be expanded and consistent measures must be taken to reduce disparities’. The Zimbabwean Legislation has been proposed that would make compulsory attendance of the primary school aged children.
Data on education
Data on education are available within the education system itself. They are mainly used for educational planning purposes and policy formulation. Other sources of data are the Central Statistical Office, UNICEF and various World Bank reports. Some qualitative were obtained from several papers presented at work -shops and seminars and from Sentinel Surveillance Survey reports carried out by the Department of Social Welfare. The data are available are disaggregated by gender, age, and by province. Some samples are given below:
Children who have never been to school
Information on education on those children who had never been to school was obtained from the 1992 population census and is shown in the Figure 1. It is shown that there were more females than males among those who had never attended school in almost all the age groups, except the 5-9 year age group.
Children Attending School
Data from the 1992 population census indicated that about 96 percent of the population aged 18 years and below were attending school. This is expected since the bulk of the school going population is in the primary and secondary schools where most of them would be aged 18 years and below. We observe that the proportions at school were fairly close for all age groups except the 15-18 where boys slightly out numbered girls.
Figure 3 shows child school enrolments by province for the year 1995.. It is shown that Manicaland province ranged the highest, followed by Masvingo and Midlands with Mashonaland Central province and Matabeleland South province trailing behind. In all provinces enrolments were higher for the boy child than his girl counterpart. A similar picture is obtained if the other years are considered.
Data on school enrolments by gender and by year of enrolment also emphasize the disparities in school attendance already observed between the boy and the girl child. Enrolments for both primary and secondary schools are higher for boys than girls. It is encouraging that after about 1994 the gap seems to be closing faster in terms of the observed disparities. Generally enrolments increased after 1980 for both sexes decreasing in about 1990, being on the increase again thereafter. The drop in enrolments in 1990 might be partly attributed to the economic hardships which tended to increase the level of poverty in the country as well as the woes associated with the adverse effects of the HIVepidemic.
Data on school drop-outs can be disaggregated by gender. Gender inequalities are characterized by a low female attainment at high levels, and a high at lower educational levels. This is more so in the farming communities and remote communal areas. The participation ratios depicts gender inequalities which can be attributed to the stereotyping coupled by economic woes in the majority of the society. It could be the remnants of the culture preference of sons to daughters, choosing to educate a son rather than a daughter. The overall from the graph shows that there are relatively more of the girl children who left school than the boy children.
Child Literacy Rates
Minor gender disparities are observed from data on literacy rates from the 1992 population census for children aged between 15 and 19 years. The 1992 census computed literacy rates for those aged above 15 years. Boys tended to have a slightly higher literacy rate (96%) than girls (95%).
The education policy in Zimbabwe encourages automatic promotion and hence does not promote repetition. Automatic promotion is throughout the seven years of primary education as well as four years of secondary education. Most of the pupils fall out of the education system after completion of four years of secondary education. From this policy it can be concluded that basic education in Zimbabwe is seven years of primary education plus four years of secondary education , though it has been proposed that basic education should be seven years of primary education plus two years of secondary education. Basic education is complete education that is given to an individual. Promotion rates at entrance level are affected by drop-outs due to problems related to harsh economic conditions prevailing in the country as well as to distances from homes to schools especially in the remote parts of the country.
On average, the primary sector losses of over 20% of the initial cohort. In real terms 80- 140 000 pupils do not complete primary education cycle indicating a relatively high inefficiency or wastage. There is a near gender parity as regards to survival rates as shown by the table. Losses are due to dropout rates, repeaters/drop-out rates and other socio-economic factors as well as the re-introduction of school fees.
Transition rates from Grade 7 to Form One has around 65% to 75% since independence. This is attributed to the stabilization in the enrolment rates , establishment of new schools and focus shift from quantitative approach towards equity and quality education. This therefore means that 25% to 35% of primary school graduates do not proceed or do not have access to secondary schooling contrary to the government’s policy of unimpeded progress. This is attributed to socio-economic hardships especially after the introduction of cost recovery through the introduction of school fees.
Quality of Education
Quality of education is a very important variable in that it is affected by several other factors such as the availability of proficient teaching staff, funding for the various school needs, and the commitment of the government to improve or maintain high standards of education in the country. It is evident that the government in Zimbabwe is fully committed to the maintenance of high educational standards as seen by the rapid expansion of education soon after independence in 1980. However, this expansion also brought other problems is. the spiraling unemployment rates as more and more graduates are brought out every year. The economic sector therefore has to expand in response to the demand for jobs bought about by the expansion in the education sector.
Pupil Classroom Ratio: National Analysis
The official pupil classroom ratio is forty pupils per classroom, but data show a higher classroom rate than the official ratio. This therefore implies that there is overcrowding in both government and non government schools, negatively affecting the available facilities and resources. Government schools have a higher ratio, and this could be attributed to pupils flocking it to the government schools due to lower fees, better learning facilities and teaching resources. The lower ratio in non government schools is attributed to a relatively higher infrastructural developments. Urban settings show high classroom ratio when compared to rural settings. This is due the concentration of government school in urban areas which are relatively cheaper and are well equipped. Non government schools in rural settings generally have a lower classroom ratio due to the sparse population distribution as well as poorly developed infrastructure.
A proxy indication of quality of education can be obtained by looking at teacher qualification. The number of qualified teachers has been on the increase since about 1980. The number of trained teachers surpassed the untrained teachers in 1980. Between 1984 and 1986, the opposite was true, with the numbers almost equal between 1987 and 1990. After 1991 the number of trained teachers was on the increase again with the number of untrained teachers being on the fall. This has been partly due to the Ministry of education’ s policy of expanding the teacher training programme with the view of increasing quality of education. However more data in terms of pass rates would be needed in order to adequately assess the quality of education in the country.
According to the Ministry of Education Report of 1996, the education budget constitutes 14.08 percent of the national budget with the primary sector taking up 62.81 Figure 7 and Figure 8 show most of the allocation to the two sectors above 90 percent goes towards salaries and wages with less than 1 percent going towards equipment and furniture.
As has already been mentioned, the quality of education has been eroded by the expansion in the provision of infrastructure and basic facilities that have a bearing on the learning process. The quality of education has further been affected by the economic hardships that has beset the country. Per pupil expenditure has gone down to the 1980 levels. Cost recovery measures introduced by the government at the dawn of SAP have also adversely affected the attendance rate by children from poverty stricken families.
Expenditure towards education has also been cut with the bulk of the budget going towards teachers’ salaries. The cuts in the expenditure for education have resulted in massive brain drains, low staff morale resulting in the poor delivery of services. The quality of teachers generally means more trained teachers, supervision equipment and learning material, as well as relevant curricula. In education, real recurrent expenditure fell by 8% in 1991/2 and was expected to fall by a further 11% by 1992/3.
Data show that the vote allocation for the different levels have risen since 1985. This doesn’t necessarily mean that expenditure per student is increasing but rather that there has been an increase in enrolment throughout the education system. Unless population growth is controlled enrolments will continue to increase and so will expenditure on education.
Limitations of the data
Data from the Central Statistical Office are mostly secondary in nature and is normally presented in aggregated form. More often therefore children are lumped with the adult population in data presentations. Where possible, however, re-computations had to be undertaken in order to extract child centered data. A further limitation comes in the fact that most of the educational data in the country is silent on the socio-cultural context in which it was gathered. This might be due to the fact the majority of the sources of the data are quantitative sample surveys which do not give much attention to qualitative methods which might otherwise explain the cultural context in which the data is collected.
Data on education are very silent on the socio-cultural context in which it was gathered. Only a few people have paid attention to socio-cultural factors prevailing in the areas from which they have gathered their data.
The available data assume that every child starts school at the age of six and that primary education is free and compulsory. Children in farm communities and remote areas start going to school at a later age due to varied reasons ranging from poverty, long distance to school, and lack of affordability of school fees. There is also an assumption that all schools effectively follow government regulations. According to the Ministry of Education , children are not supposed to be denied education because their parents did not pay school levies. Yet there are numerous schools that send children home for non payment of levies.
The constraint faced with data on children within the Ministry is that it does not give information about those children who drop out of school during and after primary schooling. Compulsory education is up to Grade Seven and this usually coincides with the age of thirteen . Some children fall out of the education system at early years before attaining the legal age of majority. There is no mechanism in place to monitor the reasons related to late entry into the primary education system as well as the reasons related to drop out rates.
Data from a Sentinel Surveillance did indicate the reasons related to late entry into the primary education, as school being too far or lack of money for, and that in some cases school fees is too high. The weakness of the data is however that it is based on a small sample and cannot be depended upon to reflect a national picture.
The other problem with data from Sentinel Surveillance is that it lumps together Resettlement Areas with Communal Areas. The two areas are characterized by varied problems. It would be wrong to draw similarities on two areas faced with totally different scenarios.
The Ministry of Education has come up with a monitoring system to monitor the quality of education in the country. This is done by looking at the number of books per child countrywide as well as the pupil- trained teacher ratio. This monitoring system also looks into the average classroom size. The limitation though is that this data to be captured by the monitoring system does not say much on the school environment where the process of education is supposed to take place .
Other issues that have a bearing on the quality of education are not yet taken into consideration by this monitoring system. ‘Achievement level is constrained by the low level of resources with which their schools are provided. Students in the district council schools have fewer resources at classroom level as well. None of the District council schools surveyed had enough text books for each students, and shortages in basic instructional materials such as chalk, paper, pencils and audio visual aids were uncommon’ (World Bank, 1992).
The monitoring system in the Ministry of Education is however not children centered. The ministry seems to be only concerned with such aspects as enrolment rates, drop out rates and promotion rates. It only focuses on the number of children that are within the system and are not concerned with those children outside the education system. Data from Sentinel Surveillance surveys indicate that a sizeable number of children from farming areas of primary school age (6 – 13 years ) are not currently at school. Literature on child labour points to education as part of the problem resulting in child labour. Furthermore, as seen in Chapter 5, there seems to be correlation between child labour exploitation and the provision of education (farms, communal areas, urban and peri-urban. Low school enrolments seem to result in high incidents of child labour or child exploitation.
It is also true to say that developments achieved so far in terms of education are mainly infrastructural in nature. The expansion in the education system has been measured by the number of schools that have been built and not the learning equipment, as well as adequate learning facilities The quality of education should also be reckoned with when looking into strides that have been made towards the provision of education.
Data on the number of trained teachers is also available from the Ministry of education. This has been, in some cases, desegregated by gender and province. There is little that has been said about the pupil-teacher ratio. This has a bearing on the quality of education and if this is looked into, it would reflect the child centredness of data.
The monitoring system that the Ministry of Education has come up with should also take into account the distribution of resources. It would appear as if there is an equitable distribution of resources between rural district council schools, private or trust schools and the former Group A schools. The highest number of children attend schools that have poorly developed infrastructure and this has a direct bearing on the level of pass rates.
Data on the number of trained teachers is also available from the Ministry of education. This has also been desegregated by gender and province. However not much has been said about the ratio of female trained teachers per girl pupils. This could have an impact on the drop out rates that seems to be on the increase for girl children.
It is in order here to mention that due to the constraints posed by the magnitude of this enquiry, not all the indicators of the education system in Zimbabwe could be equally paid justice to and exhausted. Hence it is recommended that further child centered research focusing on how the education system operates, its shortfalls and successes and various other socio-cultural factors, be conducted, if a more holistic picture of education in the country is to be obtained. However, attempts have been made in this chapter to critically consider some of the commonly used indicators of education. It is further recommend that a data base with all the information on education be established as a pre-requisite for future research projects of this nature.
There is need, however, to make the accessibility of raw data much easier especially for re-computation purposes. Census raw data are difficult to access due to the confidentiality of aspects. The weakness with the Sentinel Surveillance data is that it is also based on small samples
Timely and up-to date data are important for any policy making, planning as well as for research. There is also need for closer collaboration with the various research agencies who collect and analyze data on education in order to avoid unnecessary duplication in their activities.
More attention needs to be paid to the Early Child Education and Care in the country. There is hardly any qualitative data on the level of enrolments , child – teacher ratios as well as the number of early learning centres. ‘In Zimbabwe Early Childhood Education and Care is seen as a community responsibility with the government playing a relatively a minor role in providing community mobilization, registration, training and supervision services’.
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