Zimbabwe makes school compulsory until aged 16

By Shingai Nyoka

Zimbabwe has amended its laws to make the first 12 years of schooling compulsory.

Children are now required by law to stay in school for an extra five years to 16 years of age.

It is also now an offence to expel children on the grounds of pregnancy or non-payment of fees.

It appears to be a bold attempt to force parents to prioritise education in the wake of an economic crisis.

They now face up two years in jail, or a $260 (£200) fine if they can afford it, if they do not send their children to school.

But some believe that the government is shirking its responsibilities amid broken promises to provide free basic education and a chronic shortage of state schools.

Parents are spending less on education in a struggle to buy food. National research shows drop out in some areas are as high as 20%.

The high drop-out rate has also been blamed on pregnancy, early marriages, the distance from school and a lack of interest.