Ellen Mlambo - MPANDAWANA – The Teacher Capacity Development Programme (TCDP) being introduced by Government to give free education to teachers at the five State Universities has been oversubscribed with thousands of teachers taking up the offer in Masvingo Province alone, the provincial education director Zedias Chitiga has said.
Although he could not say the exact figure, Chitiga told parents and civil servants gathered at the official opening of Better Schools Programme Zimbabwe new building at Mpandaw ana in Gutu last Friday that there was overwhelming response to the programme and thousands of teachers have applied to get the few places in the five universities to further their education.
Selection of successful applicants will be done at the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Schools head office in Harare and the overwhelming response is certainly going to present headaches as the places are limited.
The Ministry has introduced the TCDP as an incentive to teachers who are lowly paid because of the difficult economic situation that the country is facing. After the Ministry realised that it cannot pay teachers adequately in monetary terms, it explored ways of giving other incentives and one of them was to get them places in universities and the Government pay for their fees, said Professor Paul Mavhima who is the Deputy Minister in the Ministry and was the guest of honour at the official opening.
Two weeks ago the Ministry sent application forms for the programme to all schools in the province and the response had been overwhelming.
"As a Ministry we are always concerned by the low remuneration that our teachers are getting. This is a situation that is beyond us as it has been caused by sanctions. However, we have always been working on finding ways of incentivising and improving conditions of service for our teachers and one of the incentives that we have come up with is the TCDP that will give teachers life-long learning opportunities.
"Teachers choose a degree programme at one of the universities that we have arrangements with and the Government pays the full tuition. This is from a diploma, to a degree, to masters and to a doctorate. This is life-long learning and capacity development which is also a big incentive," said Prof Mavhima.
Prof Mavhima said the economy was bound to pick up soon and the monetary conditions will continue to be improved.
"Sir, the response that we have got for this programme is just overwhelming. We have hundreds of applications from each of the province's seven districts. I am currently attending to the applications and will soon be in a position to tell the exact figure," said Chitiga.
The Universities involved in the programme are the UZ which is offering degrees in education planning and post-graduate diplomas in education; Bindura University will offer Bsc Degrees in science; Midlands State University will be offering ICTs', GZU will specialise in languages and ZOU in curriculum development and research studies.education