By Dumisani Nyoni
PLUMTREE–WARD 11 villagers in Mangwe District, Matabeleland South, have appealed to government to build more schools in the area amid revelations that pupils are forced to walk more than 30 kilometres to access education at Plumtree town.
The situation has led many children, especially girls, to drop out of school while boys cross borders to neighbouring South Africa or Botswana in search of greener pastures.
Villagers recently held a meeting with Community Youth Development Trust (CYDT) officials to discuss the way forward.
“We met as councillors with CYDT officials and young people at Mangwe district to discuss issues affecting us as a district. The major challenge that we discussed was the shortage of schools,” Ward 11 Councillor Ngonidzashe Chemhuru told RadioVOP.
“The schools are too far for our children and this has become a hindrance for them to accessing education. Due to long distances that these children are forced to take, some, especially girls have dropped out of school after falling pregnant while boys have become herd-boys,” she said.
Chemhuru said the challenge was more pronounced in Marula area where there are no secondary schools.
Parents tried to build one block and toilets.
The other block is still at foundation level, she said.
Chemhuru asked government to provide them with resources to finish Marula Secondary School.
“We appeal to government to avail more resources for the completion of the school. We will be greatly honoured,” she said.
A number of schools in Matabeleland have poor infrastructure and many qualified teachers do not want to work there. Due to lack of resources and shortage of qualified teachers, the pass rate for most of the schools is always at 0%.
For instance, pupils in different grades at Watershed Primary School in Plumtree jointly conduct lessons because of lack of classrooms and other infrastructure.
In fact, they learn in grass-thatched huts where Grades one and two, three and four, and five to seven have joint lessons. Pupils write notes and test exercises on their laps.
However, under the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, government is targeting to construct 17 primary and secondary schools, funded through OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) which is on-going at a cost of US$21 million and are expected to be complete by end of 2018.
Feasibility studies for 100 schools are underway, with resources being mobilised through joint ventures.
CYDT is a youth organization that was established by a group of concerned young people motivated by the idea that they are the custodians of good governance and democracy in any society, and that their full participation can help transform local communities as far as development is concerned.
The organisation was formed in 2012 and officially registered in 2015 and it operates in Matabeleland South.
The organisation seeks to develop the skills of young people so that they can effectively and actively engage and participate in the country’s political, economic and democratic processes.