Actions by the Ministry of Education since Lazarus Dokora took over seem to show the gap between government and the people. He definitely has good intentions but maybe he should do things more diplomatically, but more importantly he must consult the stakeholders, both schools and parents.
The actions which so far include a freeze on school fees, the banning of incentives for teachers, holiday classes and now entrance tests for Form One are all populist and at face value seem to be for the benefit of the average Zimbabwean.
But at the root of it all, is the greed and corruption that has gripped our society. Circulars cannot stop these vices unless there is a paradigm shift on how people look at things- more so when the government is not doing anything about those accused of being corrupt.
Some schools have, for example, accepted the freeze on school fees but they now insist on payment of fees before the term begins. They say parents who cannot raise the full fees should get loans from the banks at which they deposit the fees. Result- the fees have gone up for the parents.
Indeed some of the things that the schools have been doing, like collecting thousands from pupils seeking Form One places are immoral. But is there no better way of stopping the exercise than simply ordering a ban?
Why do parents pay these entrance fees when they are not certain that their children will get places? The answer is simply that these schools are perceived to offer better education. With the current O-level pass rate, Dokora might be fighting a losing battle unless he raises the pass rate at all schools.
Parents, especially the poor ones, will do anything to get the best education for their children. It is not that they can afford it, but it opens doors for their children that were never open to them.
The rich have no problem. They do not need entrance exams. The fees shut the poor out. And teachers at the schools that have the best results earn more than those at government schools where there are no incentives. The incentive is built in the fees.
So doctor, get real. All the things you are trying to address by force can actually be addressed diplomatically by improving the standard of education across the board.