The National Association of Secondary Heads (Nash) has written to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, raising concern over what it calls unreasonable policies on appointment of deputy heads and promotion.
In a letter, dated November 16, 2018, seen by TellZim News but addressed to Masvingo Provincial Education Director (PED) Zedius Chitiga, the school heads strongly criticised the 600-learner threshold required for a school to qualify to have a deputy head.
They complain that the policy is affecting many senior teachers’ prospects for promotion since many rural schools cannot meet the threshold.
The association also says the policy is bad is it piles more pressure on school heads who have to do all the work with no assistant.
“The current policy position is that a primary school needs a minimum of 281 to qualify to have a Deputy Head and a secondary school needs a minimum of 600 learners to qualify to have a Deputy Head.
“This policy position has far reaching implications in relation to promotion prospects in the sector. In some rural districts like Mwenezi, only three (3) out of 23 registered secondary school qualify to have Deputy Heads and in the primary sector, 46 out of 46 registered primary schools qualify to have Deputy Heads. In the same district, at the start of September 2018 there were 21 substantive Deputy Heads at primary level and non at secondary level. This creates a major succession challenge in the secondary sector.
“The high enrolment benchmark at secondary level for a school to qualify for a Deputy Head against a lower benchmark at primary level is difficult to understand given that the learner transition rate from primary to secondary is not 100 percent,” reads part of the letter.
"The new curriculum in the secondary sector has many learning areas and major departments, besides complex time tabling which creates the need for a Deputy Head to assist the Head with supervision and management. Secondary schools which at this level operate without Deputy Heads definitely suffer a lot. This compromises the quality of education for the secondary schools," further reads the letter.
Nash goes on to call for the abolishment of the policy which they say is nothing but a barrier set to distort the promotion criteria in the ministry.
"Some teachers at secondary level who aspire for promotion are faced with a bottleneck in terms of opportunities for promotion to posts of Deputy Heads yet their primary counterparts have vast opportunities.
“This scenario demotivates and demoralises senior teachers at secondary level. The policy simply distorts the promotion system in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education," reads the letter.
When contacted for comment, Chitiga said the issue was private and declined to disclose how the ministry was dealing with it.
"This is an internal issue, we are still at the consultation stage so I can't disclose it to the press because I will be breaching the Secrecy Act and I don't want to see it in the press," said Chitiga.