24 Byo schools closed, Ngozi Mine one spared

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Nqo­bile Tshili Chron­i­cle Cor­re­spon­dent

THE Gov­ern­ment shut down 24 il­le­gal schools in Bu­l­awayo last term but has spared one at the city’s big­gest squat­ter camp.

In an in­ter­view, the act­ing Pro­vin­cial Ed­u­ca­tion Di­rec­tor Mrs Olicah Khaira said Min­istry of Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion was wor­ried that par­ents were still send­ing their chil­dren to learn in il­le­gal schools.

“We are con­cerned about the sprout­ing of il­le­gal schools in Bu­l­awayo. Last term we shut down 24 il­le­gal schools in the city. Th­ese schools are run by peo­ple who do not have any teacher qual­i­fi­ca­tions. So we don’t know that they are teach­ing our chil­dren,” said Mrs Khaira.

She said the im­por­tance of hav­ing qual­i­fied teach­ers has seen Gov­ern­ment stop­ping the re­cruit­ment of un­trained teach­ers. As the coun­try im­ple­ments the new cur­ricu­lum, she said, chil­dren at in­for­mal in­sti­tu­tions will suf­fer more.

Mrs Khaira said un­law­ful schools were not ad­her­ing to ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards and some were con­duct­ing les­sons in the back­yards of their own­ers.

“We are now im­ple­ment­ing the new ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum that re­quires con­tin­u­ous as­sess­ment of learn­ers, mean­ing that chil­dren can­not seat for pub­lic ex­am­i­na­tions with­out marks from con­tin­u­ous as­sess­ment. We want to urge par­ents not to send their chil­dren to th­ese il­le­gal schools. We are also hav­ing chal­lenges shut­ting down the schools be­cause to­day we might shut a school in Mag­wegwe sub­urb and a week later we are told an­other school has been opened in Mpopoma,” she said.

Mrs Khaira said pupils at the il­le­gal schools also miss out on ed­u­ca­tion ex­pos such as science and sports fes­ti­vals con­ducted by the min­istry adding that by tak­ing their chil­dren to such schools, par­ents were ex­pos­ing them to po­ten­tial abuse.

“We have heard cases of chil­dren be­ing abused in in­for­mal schools. So it wor­ries us when par­ents send their chil­dren to th­ese peo­ple that op­er­at­ing il­le­gal schools. Those struc­tures can­not pro­tect chil­dren from abuse un­like in our schools where we in­ves­ti­gate and in­sti­tute dis­ci­plinary ac­tion to those who abuse chil­dren,” said Mrs Khaira.

She said most of the il­le­gal schools were teach­ing Early Child­hood De­vel­op­ment (ECD) classes.

In July, the Gov­ern­ment an­nounced that pupils who do not at­tend classes at reg­is­tered in­sti­tu­tions will no longer be able to pro­ceed to Grade One in a new sys­tem to be ef­fec­tive next

Mrs Khaira said the Gov­ern­ment will not shut down the il­le­gal school at Ngozi Mine dump­site be­fore in­te­grat­ing all the chil­dren into the for­mal ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

Squat­ters at Ngozi Mine set up the school with an en­rol­ment of up to 300 pupils. The chil­dren are be­ing taught by peo­ple who are not qual­i­fied to do so.

Par­ents at Ngozi Mine have ar­gued that they can­not send their chil­dren to for­mal schools as they can­not af­ford to pay the fees.

They also say they de­cided to set up their own school to pro­tect their chil­dren from stereo­typ­ing they would suf­fer at for­mal schools

“We vis­ited the school last term where were found over 196 chil­dren learn­ing in it. We con­cluded that we can­not shut­down the school be­fore we rein­te­grate the chil­dren to for­mal schools. But we hope by Jan­uary 2018 we would have suc­ceeded in do­ing so,” said Mrs Khaira.

She said the sit­u­a­tion at Ngozi Mine was very dire and needs col­lec­tive ef­forts from the peo­ple of Bu­l­awayo.

“Their par­ents have ex­hib­ited ex­treme poverty and they de­pend on scroung­ing at the dump site for their liveli­hood. If we just close the school it will dis­ad­van­tage the chil­dren. They need to be as­sisted be­cause as a city we are sit­ting on time bomb,” she said.

Mrs Khaira said res­i­dents of Bu­l­awayo who are ca­pa­ble can help some of the chil­dren at Ngozi mine.

“It’s a sit­u­a­tion which needs peo­ple with a kind heart, peo­ple who would be will­ing to pay school fees for a cer­tain num­ber of the chil­dren. Maybe, some­one can start an ini­tia­tive of adopt­ing child from Ngozi Mine. It should be a duty for ev­ery Bu­l­awayo res­i­dent be­cause if those chil­dren do not go to school it might be a prob­lem for the com­mu­nity in maybe less than 10 years,” said Mrs Khaira. — @nqot­shili

in­creased stu­dent en­rol­ment.

“The strike is also mo­ti­vated by the fact that the learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment at Nust is no longer con­ducive. There was a high in­take which was not com­mu­ni­cated to the lec­tur­ers on how the in­cre­ment will be han­dled in as far as the work load is con­cerned,” said Mr Shoko.

“We un­der­stand the man­age­ment cut al­lowances for lec­tur­ers by 40 per­cent in par­al­lel and block re­lease pro­grammes but re­duced their (man­age­ment) al­lowances by far much less than that.”

He said it was wor­ry­ing that there seems to be prob­lems be­dev­illing the in­sti­tu­tion as the strike oc­curred a few days af­ter stu­dents ap­proached the univer­sity’s lead­er­ship over fail­ure to ad­dress is­sues to do with their med­i­cal aid fees.

The stu­dents have en­gaged lawyers to force the univer­sity to ac­count for $1.5 mil­lion med­i­cal aid fees.

Nusteda sec­re­tary gen­eral Mr Bless­ing Jona ac­knowl­edged that lec­tur­ers were on strike but said the in­dus­trial ac­tion was not over salaries.

He de­clined to dis­cuss the rea­son be­hind stop­page of lec­tures. “Lec­tur­ers are happy with their monthly salaries. We can­not com­ment since the is­sue is still an in­ter­nal mat­ter,” he said. — @nqot­shili

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