HUNGER has taken its toll at Mzinyathini High School in Matabeleland South with pupils reportedly fainting after attending classes on empty stomachs and having walked long distances to the school.
Most of the affected students are day scholars who come from places surrounding Mzinyathini as they are forced to travel to school without having eaten anything.
Information obtained by Southern Eye indicated most of the students had been forced to drop from out of school because of starvation.
Gift Dube, a parent, told Southern Eye the situation was worrisome, leading to children failing to complete their studies.
“We are very much worried about the situation here. Our children are forced to drop from school due to hunger. We have cases of pupils fainting in schools. Mzinyathini has the worst cases,” Dube said.
“ I can tell you that the situation affects most schools in this region. I have been to Sikhoveni Secondary School and witnessed a young girl faint because of hunger.”
He said the place has been having poor harvests for the past three seasons and it was a pity that hunger struck the most during the period when pupils sat for their final “O” and “A” Level examinations.
“For the past three years we have been failing to have good harvest due to erratic rains and it has become a norm that we start facing hunger problems as early as June so the time children start writing their final examinations in November the situation will be worse,” he said.
The most affected students are those from child-headed families.
Mzinyathini High School headmaster Nezaro Nyathi confirmed the misfortune that his school was facing.
“I have a total of 659 students and only 172 are boarders while the rest are day scholars. We are having challenges with day scholars as most of them are starving and as a result they faint during lessons, at assembly point in the morning or in the grounds when they are doing their sporting activities. It is sad that it’s even affecting their performance at school as most of them do not come to school because of hunger,” Nyathi said.
He said teachers had since resorted to digging deep into their pockets trying to bring food on the table for the starving children.
“As staff, we donate food to the starving pupils, but still it’s not enough because we only afford to cook for them only once per week. We are currently embarking on we called ‘Do it yourself’, an income generation project from technical vocational education. We have finished fencing our fields and we hope to plant maize and store the cereal to feed starving pupils,” he said.
Matabeleland region is one of the driest areas in the country and with the unstable Zimbabwean economy, most people from the region have fled to neighbouring countries for better living conditions.
They have, however, lived under constant attacks by President Robert Mugabe that they do not prioritise education and they are lazy, the reason which the President believes was the root cause behind underdevelopment of the area.
People from Matabeleland also accuse the government of not being supportive to them as they have been appealing for its support, but the government have been turning a deaf ear to their concerns.