Plans by the Zanu PF government to engage the Chinese to build infrastructure at several satellite schools located in resettlement areas where pupils are learning under makeshift buildings is a noble idea.
It is sad that more than a decade after the land reform, government has not made an effort to build schools to ensure children of resettled farmers get a decent education.
The situation has been so dire that pupils from the resettled areas have been attending lessons in tobacco barns that were constructed without using cement posing a serious danger to learners.
Some of them have collapsed and left several children injured.
In 2011, a 14-year-old pupil at Munhondo Primary School in Darwendale was killed after a makeshift tobacco barn they were using as a classroom collapsed.
Several of her classmates were injured.
The school used the barn to accommodate over 600 pupils from nearby farms.
To make the plight of these pupils worse, qualified teachers shun those satellite schools which were mostly run by untrained teachers. This compromised the quality of education.
Education minister Lazarus Dokora last week told Senate that he would leave for China in the next few weeks to engage that country to build decent infrastructure at these schools where teachers were still conducting lessons in disused tobacco barns.
China, however, has a poor record of constructing durable infrastructure. Government should be challenged to make sure that the Chinese contractors who would be tasked to do the job comply with the country’s set standards to avoid a situation whereby the structures would crack and collapse.
If precautions are not made to have the Chinese comply, pupils would be exposed to the same risks. The Chinese should be made to use local developers and local material such as cement. The structures should be built using Zimbabwean standards.
This will attract qualified teachers in those newly built schools and improve the standards of education in the new farming communities.
It is regrettable that the plight of these pupils has been neglected for a long time and government should move with speed to ensure that there is decent infrastructure in these schools.
The engagement of China should not come at a cost for our country.
Already, the environment is bearing the brunt of some unscrupulous Chinese investors who are panning gold along the river banks. All they want to is to extract gold, nothing more.
We also hope that the government will not mortgage the country’s resources in return for the building of schools.
The Chinese, just like other foreign investors, must be held accountable for whatever they do.
There is no doubt that the country is yearning for support, but it must not come with unreasonable strings attached.