52% of Zimbabwean 5 year olds start Primary School unprepared. This is Why

According to a report by the Association of Childhood Education International, only 48% of 5-year-olds in Zimbabwe receive early childhood education services, leaving the other 52% with no form of formal early education. The reason why governments, social entrepreneurs and civil societies are giving more attention to early childhood education now is because of the increasing evidence on brain development from 0 to 6 years and the high return on investment in early childhood development (ECD).

On Tuesday, we attended the 2016 Girl Child Indaba which was organised by the Higherlife Foundation in partnership with Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe and Tag a Life International. During the Indaba, which ran under the theme, “Educate the girl child, empower the nation,” a number of issues concerning girls and education were discussed. One of the issues discussed during one of the breakout sessions was challenges which hindered access, retention and completion at ECD level.

Breakout discussion at Girl Child Indaba 2016

A number of reasons were brought up, some of the major ones were parent’s financial constraints, limited qualified teachers, limited teaching and learning resources and societal attitudes. There are a number of families who still can’t afford to send their children to preschool, which is understandable considering that about 72% of Zimbabwe’s population lives below the poverty line.

Another major reason why a lot of children are starting primary school unprepared is because even if a child gets to go to preschool, the majority of the teachers do not have a formal training for the job. This compromises the quality of education delivered to the children and in some cases defeats the whole purpose. Some preschools, especially in the rural and disadvantaged communities do not have enough and sometimes any proper teaching and learning resources, infrastructure included. Daisy Zambuko of ZIMTA pointed out during her speech that there are schools in the rural areas which operate under the shade of trees.

What’s even heartbreaking is the fact that some children are not in school or do not perform in preschool because of their parent’s or society’s attitudes. There are people in Zimbabwe, especially in the rural areas, who still do not see the value of sending a child to preschool. “Kungoenda kunoswera vachitamba (They are just going to spend the whole day playing),” they say. They would rather spend the day with the child at home sending them to do this and that chore around the house.

This is a sad reality, but it is also because of lack of information. With the right information, resources and tools these people’s mindsets could be shifted so that they see the real value of early childhood education.

At Simba Education, we dream of a Zimbabwe in which every child has access to early childhood education. Our mission is to democratize access to quality early childhood education through the use of mobile technology in Zimbabwe and South Africa. The Simba platform is designed to help preschool teachers reduce the amount of time spent on preparing, organizing and administer classes. With the help of internationally rewarded experts in early childhood education we have adopted cutting edge academic content that focuses on introducing young children to new concepts and idea through academic play.

Discover more on simbaeducation.com

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