A classroom block at the school
…no immediate plan to improve desperate conditions
MWENEZI - Some 1082 children attending a makeshift primary school in Ward 13 are taking classes virtually in the open, while their teachers are living in makeshift pole and mud houses where they are at the mercy of the weather.
This publication witnessed this sad state of affairs at Tokwe Mukosi Primary School while covering a tent donation by global children’s welfare organisation Unicef recently.
The makeshift school, which is under Chief Chitanga’s area, accommodates children from families that were displaced by flooding of the Tugwi Mukosi Dam basin during construction work back in February 2014.
After noticing the desolate conditions at the school, Unicef went and donated 13 tents to be used as classrooms and teachers’ shelter.
Seven of the larger tents will be used as classrooms while five smaller ones will be used by teachers as houses.
There are at least four satellite schools in similar circumstances in the Chingwizi area, all of them conducting classes under the most deplorable conditions imaginable.
The schools sprouted almost haphazardly after the floods, with desperate parents having no alternative place to send their children to school.
They mainly operate as satellite schools; meaning each of them is under the ambit of planned and better-resourced schools.
No final examinations can be taken at satellite school as they are not registered with the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) as examination centres.
“This means when it is time for grade seven exams, pupils have to be registered with other schools that have Zimsec centre numbers. Proper schools are few here and travelling is difficult especially for children who have to sit for their examinations.
“For the schools to gain full examination centre accreditation, Mwenezi Rural District Council or government will have to first upgrade them to a set of minimum standards. We don’t see that happening anytime soon though the situation is really desperate. Many people in this area are here not out of their choice. Our stay was not planned but was a result of an accident and that is why we are suffering,” said one parent.
Tokwe Mukosi Primary School only has a 1x2 classroom block which is used by grade seven classes with the rest of the grades learning under tattered shades.
Teachers at the school said the classroom block was built with the help of a donor who has since moved on.
Another parent who spoke to this publication over the phone said satellite schools in the area have only managed to attract teachers because of the oversupply of teachers on the job market as well as government’s freezing new recruitments over the past few years.
“No qualified teacher would work under these conditions. We have the oversupply of teachers and the recruitment freeze to thank, though that alone is unfortunate. Many teachers are desperate for employment and that is why they end up accepting to take posts wherever they emerge. They have no choice and we feel for them.
“Getting clean water to drink is no easy task and you work under stressful conditions teaching children who are in no better situation,” said the parent.
Accepting the tent donation, Tokwe Mukosi Primary School head Laimon Matavire said the intervention meant a lot for the school which he said required any help it could get.
“We are thankful for this generous gesture which will help give us some dignity as a school. Classes are often disrupted by severe weather so we are glad that we got some assistance,” said Matavire.
Local ward councillor, Takura Mudavose also thanked the organisation and said more still needed to be done for the school to reach acceptable standards.
“Like any others in here in Chingwizi, this school is in a sorry state. There conditions here are terrible and pupils and teachers are always at the mercy of the weather.
“On behalf of the community, I thank Unicef for noticing the problems we face here and for doing something about it. Let us work together to do more for the school,” said Mudavose.
Currently Tokwe Mukosi Primary has a total enrolment of 1082 pupils under the guidance of 21 teachers.
Local satellite schools suffering the same terrible conditions include Nyuni Primary which also has many children learning under makeshift shelter.
Meanwhile, there is no immediate plan to improve the schools by building decent accommodation for teachers and classrooms for pupils as council lacks capacity.