Education & Scholarships

ECD is now compulsory: Govt

The Government has made it mandatory for all children to enroll in early childhood development (ECD) classes at four years under the new Zimbabwe Early Learners Policy (ZELP).

This means primary education now extends to nine years, that is, from ECD A to Grade Seven.

As reported by The Herald, ZELP seeks to entrench foundational literacy and numeracy to enable learners to excel as they progress along the education value chain.

ZELP is anchored on five pillars including research and innovation, legal and policy framework, human capital development and governance.

Under the policy, parents will play an increasing role education of their children starting at the ECD level.

ZELP will also ensure seamless cooperation among the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, the Ministry of Health and Child Care, and the Department of Social Welfare in the effective development of a child.

Speaking at the launch of ZELP, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Angeline Gata said the policy will compel parents and guardians to take all children to ECD upon reaching four years. She said:

ZELP will promote parental involvement in the education of children starting at ECD level.

All children should go for ECD and it is not going to be optional. The policy makes it mandatory and every parent and guardian must ensure that children go for ECD.

This will strengthen foundational learning as building blocks for later development.

The policy also considered emergency strategies related to climate change, pandemics and other exigencies to ensure teaching and learning continued unhindered.

This might include the use of digital technologies, radios and the packaging of lessons on flash drives.

UNICEF education specialist Clara Mulamba said the policy needs to be supported so that it is fully implemented for the benefit and development of children. She added:

As UNICEF we have been supporting the country’s education system and we will continue to support the implementation of this policy for the realisation of its noble objectives.

Primary and Secondary Education publicity director Taungana Ndoro said the policy will help improve the Ordinary Level pass rate. He said:

We have pass rates of as low as 40 per cent at O-Level but you realise that the pass rate at A-Level is around 95 per cent because those who have poor literacy and numeracy are screened at O-Level making it easier to pass as they progress.

recent report indicated that at least 30 schools in Manicaland Province recorded a zero per cent pass rate in the 2023 Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (ZIMSEC) O-Level examinations.

Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union chairman, Martin Chaburumunda said several factors contribute to learners struggling in the school system.

He identified inadequate resources and funding for schools, large class sizes, lack of individualised attention for learners, outdated teaching methods, limited access to support services for learners with special needs, and socio-economic disparities as among the factors negatively impacting learners’ performances.

Chaburumunda added that issues such as bullying, mental health challenges, and lack of engagement with the curriculum can also affect learners’ performances.

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