24 Byo schools closed, Ngozi Mine one spared
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