Parents and other partners will continue to be in charge of the running of preschool facilities, including paying allowances to the teachers, the State Minister for Primary and Secondary Education has said.
Isaac Munyakazi was yesterday speaking to Saturday Times to clarify comments attributed to him in our Friday’s edition which suggested that the government would, effective next fiscal year, start paying preschool teachers a salary.
“What we are doing is to supplement the efforts of parents and our other valuable partners who are supporting the preschool programmes across the country,” he said.
The minister said that the government will gradually increase its support in a bid to promote early childhood education.
The government has gradually been identifying areas with an urgent need for infrastructure and subsequently building a preschool classroom for such areas, he said. “Wherever we construct a preschool classroom we also commit to pay one teacher.”
A public relations officer of the ministry the government has constructed 600 preschool classrooms and is already paying 600 teachers (one for preschool).
The preschool facilities that government puts up come in the form of an extra classroom at the existing 12-Year Basic Education infrastructure, she said.
Nonetheless, Munyakazi explained, parents and other partners will continue to play a central role in promoting preschool education across the country, including financially motivating the teachers – as has been the case.
“The government is committed to preschool and we’ll continue to do everything within the available means to promote education at this level,” he added.
Addressing the parliamentary Standing Committee on Education, Technology, Culture and Youth on Thursday, Munyakazi said the government’s roadmap for preschool education envisages increasing the number of preschool-going children from the current 24 per cent (of children aged between three and six years) to at least 45 per cent in the next seven years.
Official statistics indicate that, in 2016, there were 2,757 public preschool facilities countrywide, up from 1,369 in 2010.