In Zimbabwe, what is generally referred to as Extra Lessons are private additional school lessons offered to a student or groups of students by a teacher for an additional fee charged by the teacher. Sometimes the fee is charged by a particular school's administration system but not as part of the official government recognised tuition. When people refer to Extra Lessons they generally mean lessons for Primary and High School level education attending government schools or low-income private schools. The arrangement for extra lessons to take place is usually done between the parents (or guardians) or the student and a teacher at the student's school. However, it is also common for parents to engage qualified or unqualified teachers (who have knowledge on a particular subject or subjects) outside the school attended by their child.
The extra lessons are conducted at makeshift schools usually at the teacher's private place of residence or in the case of one on one lessons, at the student's house. They can be conducted indoors or outdoors.
Schools and teachers have continued to defy the government directive banning holiday and extra lessons claiming the extra funds paid by parents help them run their schools successfully amid poor remuneration of teachers. Teachers have argued that the extra lessons enable them to supplement their salaries. Teachers' unions have also argued that extra lessons enable schools to attain higher pass rates. Teachers have also been accused of neglecting their duty during normal teaching time so that they can force students to enrol for paid extra lessons.
Extra lessons being provided to students is not an entirely new phenomenon. What is relatively new is the reality of parents feeling they need these lessons for every student attending government (and low-income schools).
In the past, Extra Lessons were only considered a necessity for students in their national exam year Grade 7, O' Level and A' Level.
However with what was considered a gradual reduction in value of the formal education provided at school, parents felt the need to have their children take extra lessons at every level of school. School children at levels as low as Grade 1 have been known to be enrolled for extra lessons.
The extra lessons have also served as an additional stream of income for teachers at government schools as these generally earn relatively low salaries.
Schools were banned in 2013 from conducting extra lessons by former Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora. The ban was reportedly done in a bid to cushion parents from school authorities who were demanding huge sums of money for extra lessons.
After being criticised by teacher representative bodies, Dokora later claimed he had never banned the lessons, saying he was only trying to restore order in the education sector.
School heads were informed that they could resume extra lessons after seeking permission to conduct extra lessons during school holidays.
Teachers' Unions Stance On Extra Lessons
In May 2021, teachers' unions; Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), Zimbabwe Teachers Union, and Zimbabwe National Teachers Union (ZNTU) urged their members to stop conducting extra lessons. However, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said although they do not encourage their members to conduct extra lessons, the teachers were responding to a need.
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said:
"We don’t encourage our members to conduct extra lessons and demand cash because the practice gives parents an unnecessary burden. But we must not ignore the fact that if teachers were not conducting extra lessons last year, the pass rates we are talking about would have been reduced to single digits. However, conducting extra lessons spoils the struggle for a real wage as those in the elite schools opt for the quick money and abandon the broader struggle."
ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure urged parents and teachers to partner in demanding proper funding for the education system rather than on conducting extra lessons. Masarure said:
“The provision of education and other basic services should be inclusive to deal with the challenge of inequality in our society. Public education should be well supported to guarantee quality of service delivered. Teachers and parents should not partner in engaging in illegalities. The two should partner to demand more funding for our education system from government.”
ZNTU chief executive Manuel Nyawo urged teachers’ to demand better salaries from Government and not charge for extra lessons from parents saying:
“Members who are surviving through extra lessons are selfish because the greater part of us have no access to these. Let us refuse to be paid by parents who are not the employer, and let us direct our shots to the employer. By accepting or demanding incentive bribes, we are sanitising a wrong which also gives a wrong impression of the situation in schools.”
In February 2020, The Chronicle reported that the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (Zacc) was investigating schools. The report stated that ZACC was investigating schools that were demanding payment in foreign currency for extra lessons and that unnamed teachers at six schools had received payment but had been ordered to reimburse the parents or guardians. Conducting extra lessons for a fee was declared illegal in 2017.
In February 2020, the government gazetted Statutory Instrument 1 of 2020 banning teachers from selling snacks or uniforms to pupils and conducting extra lessons on school premises. Teachers were also made to sign a document banning them from conducting extra lessons. A copy of the document was shared by Raymond Majongwe on Twitter.
The report also stated that ZACC was also pushing for the gazetting of a statutory instrument that criminalises conducting extra lessons for a fee. Government policy states that teachers should conduct extra lessons for free as a catch-up mechanism for classes that are behind in covering their syllabi.
On 20 July 2021, Charles Mlambo a teacher at ZRP High School appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court on allegations of raping his pupil while conducting science extra-lessons in the school’s laboratory.
Mlambo was not asked to plead to the charges when he appeared before magistrate Mr Dennis Mangosi, who remanded him in custody to August 3 2021.
Mlambo was advised to approach the High Court for bail application. Allegations were that on July 18 2021 at around 10am, the 15-year-old went for Ordinary Level physics extra-lessons in the school’s laboratory.
On the day in question, she was supposed to have a double-lesson which was supposed to start at 10am ending at midday. During the course of the lesson, the 15-year-old allegedly told her teacher that the laboratory was too cold and suggested that they find a warmer room where they could conduct the lesson. The court heard that Mlambo suggested that they use his office which is in the laboratory.
While inside the office, Mlambo allegedly removed his trousers and forcibly undressed the teenager before raping her.
After the attack, the girl went to lodge a complaint with her biology teacher, who then informed her parents. The girl’s parents took the matter to the police leading to Mlambo’s arrest and subsequent appearance in court on rape charges.
A sixteen-year-old boy Munashe Mapfumo from Tendai Village under Chief Mutekedza in Sadza went missing on June 18, 2021.
Mercy Tendai, the boy’s mother said her son was last seen after attending extra lessons at Sadza Secondary School. On 26 July 2021, she was quoted by a publication appealing for anyone with information on his whereabouts.
- Brenna Matendere, Teachers urged to offer free extra lessons, NewsDay, Published: March 8, 2020, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
- Elias Mambo, Schools defy govt ban on extra lessons, The Zimbabwe Independent, Published: May 2, 2014, Retrieved: May 7, 2021
- Govt lifts ban on extra lessons, Sunday News, Published: August 3, 2014, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
- MIRIAM MANGWAYA,Teachers unions ban extra lessons, NewsDay, Published: May 7, 2021, Retrieved: May 7, 2021
- Philip Mangwiro, Zimbabwean Teachers Sign Document Banning Them From Conducting Extra Lessons, iHarare, Published: February 11, 2020, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
- Nqobile Tshili, Government crafts law to criminalise extra lessons . . . Zacc probes forex schools, The Chronicle, Published: February 25, 2020, Retrieved: April 26, 2021
- Teacher accused of raping pupil, The Herald, Published: July 21, 2021, Retrieved: July 22, 2021
- SYDNEY MUBAIWA, Sadza boy (16) goes missing after extra lessons, Masvingo Mirror, Published: July 26, 2021, Retrieved: July 26, 2021