MPs say Zimbabwe is not yet ready for electronic registration of Form 1 pupils

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Education Minister Lazarus Dokora sparked heated debate in Parliament last week when he announced the Grade Seven results for 2016 and said enrolment for Form 1 at boarding schools will have to be done electronically.

Dokora said 329 549 pupils had  written Grade Seven examinations and would be proceeding to Form 1 but there were only 24 000 boarding places.

“The capacity of our boarding schools is 24 000. Our previous experience of enrolment into this sector created huge challenges for the school heads who we must protect as a system in the light of multiple pressures for limited space,” he said.

“The experience of enrolment over one day of last year gave us the evidence that this process can be mediated through harnessing ICTs. Applicants do not have to leave the comfort of their homes. They simply feed into a system at their local school, their local information centre or on their cell phone, if they so choose.

“The schools in turn will set up admission committees so that the responsibility does not convert into a huge temptation to the school head. In effect, the online solution should be available from tomorrow Friday the 9th of December and the responses to the applications should be available by Monday. An sms will be sent to each applicant for a boarding place.

“District schools inspectors will monitor the selection process and the work of the Committees to ensure that schools that have vacancies after the enrolment date are advised the Provincial Education Director whose contact details will be published.”

Most MPs complained that this was unworkable because some people did not have access to the internet while some pupils had secured Form 1 places way back in June.

Dokora said some of the legislators who were interjecting appeared to have their own private schools that were high on the ICT side of things.