School decline and choice in Zimbabwe : the case of two schools in Chipinge District.
This qualitative study explored school decline, choice and learner migration in Zimbabwe. School decline has an impact on the way that parents and learners choose schools as well as whether they will move out of one school into another (Reay, 1996). A case study was conducted in two schools in the Chipinge district. The participants included the school management team members and parents of both schools. This study was located in the interpretive paradigm. Documents review, observations and semi-structured interviews constitute the research instruments for date generation. This study was framed by Weitzel and Jonsson’s (1989) and Kanter’s (2004) models of organisational decline. Local, continental and international scholastic works, on the research topic, were interrogated to seek insights into the progress so far made and determine the agenda to the explored phenomena of school decline, choice and learner migration. The analysis and discussion of the generated data showed that school decline in Zimbabwe was caused by a myriad of factors such as the following: the poor Zimbabwean economy; migration of teachers to other countries; lack of capital\resources in schools and poor leadership and management in schools. Also noted was the link amongst the three phenomena under study. A school in decline will lose the preferential choice of both parents and learners leading to learner migration to better performing schools. The following were the recommendations of the study based on the findings and conclusions: the government should increase funds to the educational sector, improve salaries and working conditions of teachers. Students and the community should be educated on the importance of education. For schools to retain students and teachers and become the first choice of both parents and learners they need to widen their school curriculum in terms of the subjects offered and sporting activities; develop their infrastructure and also keep up with technological developments by introducing computers and internet in schools. Implications for further study were to do a comparative study of the three phenomena across districts and provinces including an increased sample size, sample population and time framework (years) to a come to a conclusive agreement of the relationship and the understanding of the phenomena.
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