Ghetto houses turned into schools

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Back-yard schools are mushrooming in high density suburbs in Harare, where as many as 50 students were being crammed into four-roomed houses – some of these schools have even converted their security walls into giant black boards.

A small house in Harare’s Dzivarasekwa high-density suburb, which operates as a school during the day and a home for the owner at night, has raised eyebrows.

The crude school has attracted a lot of students whose parents have not been able to afford fees and levies at government schools.

During the week students in uniform flock to the Dzivarasekwa back-yard school known as “Brilliant College”, which begun operating last year.

Students pay $49 in fees at the back-yard school, compared to the $60 government secondary schools were charging. The school offers learning from grade one up to upper six.

“I ended up taking my daughter to that school because she could not get a place at any of the schools around and I could not just keep her at home as she was due for grade one,” said a parent.

“It’s just a case of desperation as the school has no desks, chairs and even a blackboard. Teachers are using the walls as blackboards.”

Though the owner and principal could not be reached for comment, education minister David Coltart said that there was nothing wrong with establishing independent schools if they met required standards.

“The education act recognises independent schools and colleges, but they should meet up certain basic standards regarding the learning environment particularly the health environment,” Coltart said.

However, students at the back-yard school complained that there was only one toilet.

“Parents have the right to educate their children, but there should be proper learning environment and facilities for the students,” said Coltart.