FOR the second year running, Zimbabwe has topped Africa’s literacy tables, but an estimated one million children in the country are out of school, it has emerged.
BY TENDAI MARIMA
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013 says 92% of adult Zimbabweans were able to read and write.
But the Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart said there was no reliable data on children out of school in the country due to a critical shortage of resources and skilled personnel.
“The ‘out-of-school’ children, numbers are still not known, but could be as high as another one million children,” Coltart said at the launch of an education assistance evaluation report in October.
The Zimbabwe National Strategic Plan for the Education of Girls, Orphans and Other Vulnerable Children 2005-2010 says soaring unemployment rates, spiralling school fees, mass labour migration and high HIV and Aids rates of the past decade were key factors that caused the rise in the number of school drop-outs.
The report was compiled by the ministry of Education and UN agencies.
The report also says there has been a steady decrease in numbers of children attending primary and secondary school since 2005.
The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Report 2012 says of the 11 251 households sampled nationwide an estimated 14% of children of primary school-going age are not in school.
The highest numbers were recorded in Mashonaland West, Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South.
The assessment recommended that the government prioritise areas with the highest rates.
“The government and its development partners should develop policies and intensify efforts to better resource programmes such as the Basic Education Assistance Module to ensure universal access to primary education for both boys and girls,” said the report. “Priority in this regard should be given to the Matabeleland districts where the highest proportion of children were not in school.”
A welfare organisation, Children First is running a one-year out-of-school study group programme aimed at helping youths aged 12 to 15 years to get back into formal school.
The programme is funded the United States Agency for International Development.