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Long distance, tuition behind school drop outs

Many of the affected children, who live in Chengeta and Chisase, have to walk as much as 20km to and from school.


Parents are also being forced to delay enrolling their children with some starting Grade 1 at the age of nine instead of seven.


In urban areas children can now enroll for Grade 1 aged five or six.


A teacher at Doma Primary School who wanted to remain anonymous because he was not authorised to speak to the media said most children in the area did not proceed to secondary education because schools were few and far between.


“Because of the long distance children walk to school in the resettled areas most children are dropping out of school after completing Grade VII,” he said.


A pupil at Doma Primary said she has to wake up at dawn for her to be at school on time. But she is never early at school, usually arriving after 9am. She also has to leave school early to reach home before dusk as the area has dangerous wild animals.


However, Edgar Tozivei Seremani, a parent, believes it is not the distance that forces children out of school but the high tuition fees demanded by authorities.


Seremani, who is a farmer, revealed that he failed to raise US$10 per term for the levy and US$1 per week for teachers’ incentive for his child who had to drop out of school.


“The levy we are asked to pay is too high yet the teachers are not doing their job as they spend most of the time loitering in the staff room,” said.


Government policy stipulates that children in rural areas are not supposed to pay tuition fees but a levy agreed between school authorities and parents.


Mashonaland West regional education director Sylvester Mashayamombe said it was “regrettable” that some children were failing to access education because there were no schools.

He said it was the duty of rural district councils and parents to build new schools. — By Nunurayi Jena

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