Some inhabitants of Mt. Darwin in Mashonaland Central province are complaining that their children are being denied their right to education as authorities are ejecting the students from school for non-payment of fees.
Some villagers including Samuel Sande are not happy that several children have dropped out of school because of their parents’ failure to raise school fees.
Sande, who lives in Chiutsa village, says most children are now spending their time helping their families in the fields rather than attending class.
“We would want government to intervene. The Ministry of Education has said that no child must be ejected from school for non-payment of fees. You can see that we are not getting paid properly for our agricultural produce at the markets, and inputs are also taking long to get here even if we get them on loan, so it becomes difficult for us pay the fees.”
Fibion Muganda, who lives in the Mugari village near Dotito Growth Point, says most parents are failing to pay their children’s fees because they have not produced enough to sell to earn a living.
He adds that if a miracle does not happen, most farmers in their area may have to wait until the next marketing season – around April next year, when they would have sold their crops, to enable them to take their kids back to the desks.
“When the government said no child should be barred from attending class for non-payment of fees, we welcomed that move. But we did not produce enough to feed ourselves, let alone for paying for our children’s fees. But what is surprising is that we are now receiving summons to appear in court for failing to pay fees,” says Muganda.
VP MUJURU PhD
Some headmasters in both primary and secondary schools around Dotito refused to discuss the issue with Studio 7 saying their code of conduct does not allow them to speak to the press.
Meanwhile, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Lazarus Dokora, was quoted at the beginning of the year saying it is government’s policy that no student will be denied access to class for non-payment of school fees. The country’s new constitution also recognizes every child’s right to education.
Studio 7 caught up with a divorcee, Benhilda Kwirihwiri, at a beerhall at Dotito Growth Point. She says she has turned from being a housewife to a commercial sex worker in an attempt to raise fees for her two children.
With the country’s economy not showing any signs of recovery, Kwirihwiri says she had no means of survival and is resorted to prostitution exposing herself to the danger of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such HIV/Aids.
“We would want government to assist us in funding self-help projects so that we can pay for our children’s fees, most of them are dropping out of school}
Vice President Joice Mujuru, who hails from the same area, recently held party at Dotito Secondary School to celebrate her attainment of a PHD degree.
Mrs. Mujuru urged villagers in Dotito to take their children to school saying education was the cornerstone of national development.
FIRST LADY MUGABE
Meanwhile, First Lady Grace Mugabe, who has farming and business interests in Mashonaland Central province, says she is planning to build a state of the art university in the province that would be named after her husband, President Robert Mugabe.
But another Dotito villager, Mavis Nyanguru, says Mrs. Mugabe cannot be taken seriously as she is currently campaigning for a top post in Zanu PF ahead of the ruling party’s elective congress set for next month.
“Kids are not going to school, why can’t the First Lady help us so that we are happy and they can continue governing. Mrs. Mujuru is better than her because she is always talking about these issues.”
Zimbabwe is rated among one of the most literate countries in Africa but that rating may soon be downgraded if many people continue to fail to access basic education.