HUNDREDS of children displaced by the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam flood are shunning the substandard schools set up at Chingwizi Camp where their parents were relocated to in the aftermath of the disaster.
There is a primary and secondary school set up about 5km from the camp to cater for close to 1 000 children. The primary school has 19 teachers while the secondary school has five teachers, according to Masvingo provincial education director Fadzai Jirivengwa.
The schools consist of poles and a tent, no benches and just one table and some children said they had never bothered to attend while some do not even know where the schools are located.
The pupils are exposed to the vagaries of the weather and it is not conducive for people coming from a flooding calamity. A teacher at the primary school who spoke on condition of anonymity said their enrolment was very low considering the number of students in the camp whom they also mingle with in the forest searching for firewood or tending to livestock.
“They are not coming to school. Maybe it is because they have other duties to do as families disintegrated in the process of moving,” the teacher said. “Some have to do household chores like helping in pitching tents for their families or herd their livestock.”
Virginia Gandoweri, a mother of two, said her kids had not yet started going to school.
“They do not even know where the school is and have never been to school ever since we came here . . . It is a struggle for survival here. I just hear the school is over there and it’s a considerable distance . . .Either they are queueing for water, food or are looking for firewood while I will be with the goats or cooking. It is division of labour here,” Gandoweri said.
Jirivengwa admitted that the satellite schools were bedevilled with great challenges which could be a factor hindering enrolment, but said she was working hard to improve the situation.
“Of course, there are some things needed, but we are improving by the day. We have sourced some benches and tables and textbooks and if you come next week, every pupil will be having his or her textbook,” Jirivengwa said.
“We will make sure that they will match their previous standards at the schools they were enrolled before the disaster, if not surpass them,” she added.