Bulawayo – Pupils in some parts of Zimbabwe are reportedly staying out of school in large numbers as El Nino induced hunger continues to rock the southern African country.
Matebeleland North provincial director Boithathelo Mnguni said the El Nino induced drought, which has been experienced in most parts of the country, was taking its toll on the school children.
“They are not dropping out of school, because dropping out means someone is no longer interested in school. They are absent from school because of hunger. We are recording lot of absenteeism in schools,” Mnguni was quoted as saying.
Children in the region faced worsening food and water shortages, with rising prices exacerbating the situation as families were forced to skip meals and sell belongings.
Elsewhere, the ZBC reports that school authorities in Matabeleland South province have been urged to start setting up infrastructure for the National Supplementary Feeding Programme.
This comes as the government moves in to address the problem of school drop outs and absenteeism due to the effects of drought.
The government has allocated US$199 million towards the feeding programme.
Under the programme, which is expected to be in full swing next term, the government is looking to bring back and retain pupils in schools.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Lazarus Dokora implored school authorities during an all stakeholders meeting in Gwanda to begin setting up the requisite infrastructure for the implementation of the feeding scheme.
By October 2015, at least 3 000 pupils had dropped out of school in Matabeleland South province with drought cited as one of the major reasons.