THE Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) claims there has been a sharp increase in school dropouts, particularly in drought-prone Matabeleland South province, where cases of child labour have also shot up as children engage in menial jobs to supplement their parents’ income.
BY SILAS NKALA
PTUZ Matabeleland South chapter chairperson Urgent Moyo told Southern Eye over the weekend that there was need for other teachers’ unions, government departments, child rights groups and donor agencies to jointly identify and assist vulnerable children and enable them to go back to school.
Moyo said most of the dropouts are primary school pupils who ended up employed as house maids, cattle herders or farm workers.
“PTUZ has learnt with great shock the increase in cases of child labour in the province and parts of the country,” he said.
“PTUZ has observed that children are engaged in child labour because education is not always available for all children, especially in remote rural areas. They are called to help other members of the family and are also expected to provide for their families at a tender age especially if they are boys.
“Child labour should be treated as a national disaster which needs serious stakeholders.”
He said there was need to identify areas in the country which are child labour-infested.
“There is a need to carry out awareness campaigns on the effects of child labour on the future of the child,” Moyo said.
“There is need for unions to work together with government, child rights, and donors to find ways of assisting vulnerable children to enable them to be at school.”
As at October last year, over 6 000 pupils were believed to have dropped out of school in Matabeleland region as a result of hunger and failure to pay fees.
Matabeleland North provincial education director Boithatelo Mnguni recently said during the first two terms last year, 3 758 pupils dropped out at primary school level, including Early Childhood Development.
In Matabeleland South, a total of 2 825 pupils from both primary and secondary schools reportedly dropped out by third term last year.