By Johannes Chin’ombe
CHIVI, November 20,2015 – School children here have been rescued from travelling long distances to school as they are benefiting from the 2 545 bicycle donations being given around the district by Improving Girls Access Through Transforming Education (IGATE).
Parents who came to witness one of the initial donations held at Jenya Primary School in Chivi could not hide their joy in appreciation of the donation vowed that IGATE’s donation will not go in vain as they promised that they will make sure the aid will be put to good use.
“What IGATE has done to us has not been done by anyone else and is very unique. Our local leaders know that distances travelled by our children to school is too long but they had failed to do anything about it as they always said they are waiting for government to build more schools. This donation is therefore a great relief to us,” said one Clive Masvinu, an attendant.
“IGATE is our saviour. We had been forced in most scenarios as parents to rent houses for our children at homesteads nearby the school. This had remained a challenge to us basically since our most of our children especially girls had been exposed to the outside world at tender ages which finally led to premature pregnancies. With this donation, all the problems we have been facing on raising our children in school are now a thing of the past,” said a beneficiary’s parent Oripah Munyadza.
“I am glad that I have received this bicycle. I can now get to school in time and by the time I get to school I will be with energy to learn. Of late, I have been travelling 12km one way to school and I would get to school really tired considering that I had to wake up very early in the morning, do my household chores and then travel the long distance to school. I am really grateful to IGATE for pulling me out of the tiresome scenario,” said a benefiting 14 year old student, Mavis Munyadza in gratitude.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, IGATE matron Violet Shamu said they started to donate the bicycles in Chivi district after research indicated that the district had the highest number of school drop outs as a result of long distances incurred whilst travelling to and from school.
“Jenya Primary and Secndary schools are getting a total of 195 bicycles. Other schools are also going to get their share but we are considering students who walk long distances to school. Chivi has been chosen to benefit from this project because our research revealed that the district has the highest number of learners who drop out from school as a result of long distances they travel to and from school,” Shamu said.
“The burden was further worsened by the chores these pupils have to partake when they get home which left them with no alternative than drop out of school to escape the tiresome endeavours. Our aim is to promote and encourage the girl child to go to school; therefore our distribution is biased towards the girl child as our distribution of the bicycles will be 70:30 ratios in favour of girls,” added Shamu.
Welcoming the development, Jenya High School head, Austin Hakunavanhu said the donation will go a long way in reducing school drop outs as well as improve the school’s pass rate.
“A lot of our pupils have been travelling long distances of up to 15km one way; which translates to 30km to and from school per day. This affects pupil’s participation as they will be already tired by the time they get to school. The distances even force them to miss classes. I have no doubt that the donation will go a long way in reducing school drop outs as well as improving our pass rate. As a school, we therefore welcome this development as it has not only helped parents and pupils in different ways. I want to assure IGATE that the donation will be put to good use,” Hakunavanhu said.
The headmaster however said their major fear was that their pupils might be involved in fatal accidents whilst cycling to school but hastened to say they have already engaged the police and the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe to train pupils.
Headman Madyangove, June Manyumbu who was also in attendance hailed the donation and urged parents not to abuse the bicycles.
“These bicycles should be for use to our children only since they are the ones being handed the donation. I want to warn the foolish ones that if I see you using the bicycle anyhow, you will be punished. This I say because many have a tendency of using the bicycles to go for beer drink whilst children continue to suffer long distances at the expense of foolish parents or guardians,” Manyumbu warned.
Meanwhile, IGATE is working in partnership with World Vision, World Bicycle Relief, Care International, UK Aid, SNV and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.