COPOTA School for the Blind in Masvingo, which has not received any funding from government since the beginning of the year, is facing financial crisis.
Report by Moses Chibaya
Under normal circumstances, the school usually gets money from government under the Basic Education Assistance Module (Beam), but has not been getting that assistance to run its operations since January this year.
It is currently sitting on a US$71 000 electricity bill and has not been paying salaries for its non-teaching staff for the past two months.
Although both the primary and secondary schools have a capacity to enrol of 300 students, it has 355 pupils.
At least 200 are in primary, while 155 in secondary.
Only 1% of the students have paid their school fees while the rest, mostly from poor families, are under the Beam programme which has not been paying for them.
Speaking to journalists on a media tour facilitated by Unicef, Copota Primary School head, Simbarashe Manjere said some churches had been supporting the school since January but were also finding it tough.
“We are supposed to be having normal education like other schools but we now have an extra 55 pupils. We have a shortage of equipment and resources,” said Manjere. “We now need to build extra dormitories. We also need beds, the same applies to the dining area.”
The situation is also exacerbated by the fact that people with disabilities, who are supposed to get US$20 per month from the department of social welfare, have not been receiving it for a couple of years now.
“We currently owe Zesa US$71 000. Zesa is charging us commercial rates but we are not a business entity, this is an institution for charity. We have tried to engage Zesa and the ministry but nothing has materialised,” he said.
He added that despite paying between US$3 000 and US$5 000 monthly to Zesa, the bill keeps on accruing.
Efforts to get a comment from Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira were fruitless last week.
Copota Secondary School deputy head, Tsitsi Muganhi said they use specialised equipment in their activities, most of which is imported from outside the country.
She said it was difficult for the school to replace some of the equipment because the school has no money.