By Dumisani Nyoni
Nkayi, August 19, 2016 – PRIMARY school children in remote Nkayi district, Matabeleland North province, have been relieved from travelling long distances to school by a local NGO which recently donated bicycles to them.
Improving Girls Access Through Transforming Education (IGATE) Matabeleland North project officer, Bonisani Madikane, told RadioVOP that they donated bicycles after realising that the district had the highest number of school dropouts as a result of long distances travelled to and from school.
This, he said, contributed to the district’s low pass rate.
For instance, in 2012 Matabeleland North primary schools performed badly in Grade Seven examinations with only seven pupils attaining four units from about 457 primary schools in the province.
“In Nkayi, 23 schools benefited from the project and our aim is to reduce distances travelled by children to access education. We also realised that this was the reason why schools in this part of the country were performing badly. As such, we want to improve the pass rate in those schools,” Madikane said.
“Our aim is to promote and encourage the girl child to go to school. Therefore, our distribution is biased towards the girl child,” he added.
The project kicked off in 2014.
Madikane said the initiative was proving to be effective as the 2015 pass rate improved in some of the schools which benefited from the project.
“The attendance has improved as well as performance. Last year the pass rate was better and this year. We are expecting it to improve more,” he said.
RadioVOP last week visited parents of the children who benefited from the project and they hailed IGATE for coming up with such initiative.
“We are very thankful of this initiative,” one parent, Sithokozile Tshuma said.
“Our children were walking long distances to school and as a result they were performing badly in their education. This is because they were always absent from school due to fatigue,” she said.
Madikane, however, lamented lack of resources to donate to other schools in the province and urged non-governmental organisations to support their cause.
To guard against abuse of bicycles, IGATE set up a bicycle advisory committee to maintain and monitor them.
In this project, IGATE is working in partnership with World Vision, World Bicycle Relief, Care International, UK Aid, SNV and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
IGATE programme aims to identify and reduce the barriers that limit and hinder girls’ educational access, retention and learning outcomes.