By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent
LEARNING institutions with large numbers of students have become breeding spaces for rampant indiscipline, drug and substance abuse due to difficulty in monitoring individual learners, a senior official in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has said.
Makonde District Schools Inspector (DSI), Solomon Katoma said by virtue of such large numbers, keeping learners under strict surveillance was a mammoth task, hence mega-schools witness many cases of indiscipline, drug and substance abuse.
He said for example, Nemakonde High in Chinhoyi, which is a public school, has a bloated enrolment of over 3 000 students thereby making it the second largest learning centre in the country.
“We have recently witnessed the emergence of mega schools with unusually large numbers of more than 3 000 like in the case of Nemakonde.
“These are mostly in the ghetto, are congested and thereby difficult to manage, especially in terms of discipline of students who are exposed to drug and substance abuse which have lately gotten into our schools,” said Katoma.
“We are calling on communities to fight this menace together so that we protect the child because their future can be ruined if we don’t take steps to eliminate drug abuse.
“We are working hand in glove with police and all law enforcement agencies to educate as well as try to uproot the cause of drug abuse because if we don’t cut the supply chain, we would have done nothing to protect kids from hazards they face daily,” the schools’ inspector noted.
In order to deal with disadvantages associated with mega schools, Katoma, who was officiating at Matanah Christian Group of Colleges’ third anniversary held in Chinhoyi Friday, urged more private players to invest in education by constructing learning institutions to decongest already existing infrastructure to enable monitoring of learners easier.
The district has 118 primary and 58 secondary schools, a situation requiring urgent redress to decongest existing centres, he said.
“We want to thank Matanah Christian College for coming up with the public-private partnership complementing government efforts in the provision of quality education.
“As a ministry, we are impressed by the good pass rates at Matanah that speak volumes of the high standards of teaching and learning in academic and vocational learning areas and we encourage more investment in the sector” Katoma added.
Matanah Christian Group of Colleges director, Simbarashe Matumbike, said the shortage of secondary schools in Chinhoyi motivated the opening of the college, while plans were afoot to build a primary school and polytechnic college.
“Our main objective is to provide high-quality education to our future leaders. As part of our expansion drive, plans are underway to establish a primary school and the first-ever polytechnic college in Mashonaland West,” said Matumbike.
Matanah opened its doors to the first cohort of learners in 2000 at the height of the deadly COVID-19 era and has grown in leaps and bounds now boasting an enrolment of 326 high school students up to Ordinary Level.