Following up on the massive textbook order and delivery of 15 million primary school textbooks a year ago, Unicef has arranged a similar book shipment to all the secondary schools in Zimbabwe.
Under this new donation, 7 million new books will reach 800,000 secondary school students in 2335 schools by the end of 2011. The textbooks will enable the government to achieve its target of one textbook per pupil in six main subjects: Mathematics, English, Science, Geography, History and indigenous languages. This will dramatically reverse the 1:10 ratio that the country had just a year ago. In fact, now Zimbabwe will be the only country in Africa with a 1:1 ratio.
The books and learning materials in this phase of the Education Transition Fund have been valued at $18 million. The high school program was more complex than that for primary schools, involving 72 different titles published through three different firms: Longman, Zimbabwe Publishing House, and College Press.
The guests at the November 3rd warehouse launch shared the excitement of speakers of honor Vice-President John Nkomo and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as well as students from St. Peter’s Kubatana and Prince Edward Schools.
Minister of Education David Coltart particularly praised Unicef country representative Peter Salama for the successful negotiating process that allowed so many books to be printed at such a low cost.
Swedish Ambassador Anders Lidén (full speech), speaking on behalf of the international western donors to the Education Transition Fund, received special applause for his remarks about the need for emphasizing education for girls, who have a 40% higher dropout rate than boys in high school.
One side benefit of the massive logistics involved in these two-year distributions is that it enabled Unicef and the Ministry to create a GPS mapping of each school in the country.