Government has announced plans to employ 10 000 teachers in 2022 in a bid to reduce the teacher-to-pupil ratio and decongest schools.

While presenting the 2022 national budget last Thursday, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube told Parliament that he will allocate $11,6 billion to decongesting schools and support infrastructural refurbishment of primary and secondary schools, as well as tertiary institutions.

The current teaching workforce is around 136 000, while the teacher-to-pupil ratio is 1:70 on average. “Government seeks to reduce the teacher-to-pupil ratio, and has set aside resources for the recruitment of 10 000 teachers in 2022,” Ncube said.

“To implement the ministry’s priority projects, an amount of $11,6 billion is being allocated to the Primary and Secondary Education ministry under the 2022 national budget. The demand for education services covering primary, secondary, higher and tertiary levels have been growing over the years. This has not been matched with infrastructural development programmes due to resource and capacity constraints, among others.

“Furthermore, the need to decongest existing schools in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and reduction of walking distance has prompted the need for additional facilities,” he said, adding that information communication technology gadgets to promote e-learning during the COVID-19 era through radio and online lessons would be procured.

He said currently schools were open for physical attendance at an average of three days per week, hence the need to support e-learning.

On procurement of personal protective equipment at public schools, Ncube said he would allocate $1 billion in 2022, while $2,3 billion would be utilised for procurement of teaching and learning materials, as well as assistive devices for learners with disabilities.

He said under the enhanced maintenance programme, 130 schools would be earmarked for rehabilitation, with $650 million having been allocated.

“As part of efforts towards upscalling the uptake of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in schools under the programme of providing mobile science laboratories in schools, resources amounting to $106 million were availed for delivery and installation of 135 laboratories countrywide,” Ncube said.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said while government had indicated that it would recruit 10 000 teachers, it failed to make a fiscal commitment to that effect through the budget.