Flood victims’ children walk 5km

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THOUSANDS of secondary schoolchildren of the Tokwe-Mukosi Dam flood victims, who were forcibly resettled in Nuanetsi Ranch from the Chingwizi transit camp, have to walk close to 20km to the makeshift secondary school in the area.

TATENDA CHITAGU
OWN CORRESPONDENT

The villagers, numbering over 18 000, were forcibly moved out of the overcrowded Chingwizi camp where they had been housed since the February floods that destroyed their houses, property and livestock.

Apart from the long distance, learners have to walk in the hot arid air. Only 50 teachers cater for the more than 2 500 primary and secondary school students enrolled at Nyuni Primary and Secondary, as well as Tokwe-Mukosi and Chingwizi Primary.

They also face water shortages as boreholes drilled in the area run dry since they were not sunk deep enough to reach the water table.

A parent with a child who is set to write ‘O’ Levels said the long distances would have a huge toll on their children’s performances.

“It is not only the future of us as parents that was destroyed by the disaster, but also that of our children and their children,” the mother said.

“They leave home very early in the morning and walk 40km daily to and from school. This will definitely affect their performance because they are not used to this. We stayed close to Zunga School.”

Another parent said their children risked being attacked by wild animals in the vast Nuanetsi Ranch.

Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said the establishment of the school was based on enrolment figures from the Primary and Secondary Education ministry.

“The establishment of one secondary school was informed by the enrolment figures from the ministry of Education,” he said.

“If there is need for more schools, then they should have told us.

“The furthest the pupils can walk is around 10km, which are the same distances that other rural schools countrywide walk.”

Acting Masvingo provincial education director Fadzai Jirivengwa was not available for comment.

A recent report by the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe noted that conditions of schooling for the flood victims’ children were not conducive to the extent that some learners had dropped out and girls opted for early marriages due to food shortages.