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Rains Drive 10,000 Students Out of School

At least 10,000 students in Chiredzi and Mwenezi districts in Masvingo Province are out of class as two weeks of heavy rainfall have destroyed schools.

Heavy rains pounding Masvingo may be a blessing to farmers, but not for students in the two districts where some schools have been destroyed by the downpour.

Speaking with VOA Studio 7 by phone, Masvingo Education Director Ms. Clara Dube called the situation "catastrophic" and said the Ministry of Education, Sport, and Culture is now seeking help.

Ms. Dube said perhaps 30 schools were destroyed or so badly damaged that they are unusable. The worst affected are satellite schools built in resettlement areas to cater for those who got plots under the land reform program.

Limpopo valley in Chikombedzi was the worst affected area. Some of the schools destroyed there include Davata, Mabalauta, Ruware, and Judia primary schools.

Mwenezi was hit, as well, losing schools such as Rutenga, Mwenezi Boarding School, Mazetese, and Maranda, according to the provincial education director.

Speaking with VOA Studio 7, several parents said they blame the government for not building proper schools in the resettlement areas.

Parent Tongai Muzhanyi and Silas Muchindo of Mwenenzi called the situation a disaster.
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Not only were school structures ruined, but materials - such as books - were badly damaged. Some of the schools had computers donated by President Robert Mugabe. Those are almost certainly destroyed and at least 20 blair toilets donated to the schools by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai were also reportedly washed away.

Parents said the land reform program did not provide adequate infrastructure to resettled people. Most of the schools, they said, were constructed of mud and thatched grass.

The provincial education director said it is unclear how long affected students will be out of school, as the government is ill-prepared to handle a disaster of this magnitude.