MAKONI WEST —Education facilities in many parts of the country are still in a sorry state, 34 years after independence.
This is despite the provision in the constitution which clearly spells out the right to affordable basic education.
Most rural areas have schools which are not adequately supported with facilities that will make education attainable to many with ease.
In most cases, school-going children will have to walk very long distances to school, a situation that has proved to be retrogressive in terms of preparing learners for the future.
Such a situation is manifest in ward 25 of Makoni West constituency where many pupils are walking about 20km to a nearby school on a daily basis.
According to the Ministry of Education officials, such an environment has greatly affected schoolchildren because they will be too tired to concentrate.
This was revealed during the handover ceremony of school furniture and other learning facilities to a satellite school, Charamba Secondary, in Makoni West by its MP Kudzanai Chipanga on Tuesday.
The furniture was sourced from the Chinese Embassy which also donated 40 water pumps to the community so that they start horticulture to sustain their livelihoods.
Charamba Secondary is still a satellite school of Nyakuipa High School. It was established three years ago, but with Ordinary Level students coming next year. The school is yet to be registered because it is failing to comply with the standards set by the Ministry of Education.
The school only boasts one uncompleted block and most student’s squat at a nearby primary school where Charamba Secondary teachers are housed too.
Makoni district education officer Arkim Jiji said there are sticky issues which should be fulfilled before they register the school.
“Charamba Secondary is still a satellite school under Nyakuipa School,” he said.
“When we got our independence, the government said we should increase schools and that is when the concept of satellite schools started.”
Jiji said government policy was that secondary school pupils should not walk more than 10km to school while for primary pupils it is 7km.
“We heard that students were walking a distance of about 20km a day to the nearest school and another 20km back home and that is why we came up with the idea of this satellite school.
“We now expect that all the facilities will be in place as soon as possible so that it will be registered,” he said.
Before a school is registered there should be adequate toilets, safe water, classroom blocks and an administration block.
Chipanga said he has decided to forego luxuries in order to help his constituents.
“Some MPs will ask for clothes from donors, but I have decided to ask for something which will benefit us all,” said Chipanga.
“We asked for water pumps and we were given. We also asked for material to make this school functional and today marks the journey.”
He commended the Chinese Embassy for its donation saying it proves that the Asian country has a longstanding relationship with Zimbabwe.
“Recently the President [Robert Mugabe] signed numerous beneficial deals which will also cascade to rural areas.
“I expect that after my tenure, we will have developed this school and others in this constituency so that learners will not be compromised in attaining education,” said Chipanga.
Deputy Ambassador of China to Zimbabwe Cui Chan said the gesture is proof that China was willing to partner Zimbabwe on developmental issues.
Chan added that his country would explore ways to continue financing Zimbabwe especially on education and agriculture.
Some parents could not hide their joy over Tuesday’s donation saying they would contribute to the construction of the school which would benefit children from Ruponga and Magocha villages.
“If you look at the performance of these children in class it will be very minimal and its affects their future. They will be too tired to concentrate,” said Nyakuipa headmaster Taurai Tswatswa.
“If the irrigation scheme succeeds, we will be able to generate some money to contribute towards the development of this school,” said one parent Tambudzai Chaitezvi.
“I have a child who walks a long distance to school and even if she is bright, I don’t think we will be able to see the best out of her. She will be tired even to do her homework at home, therefore, we urge the government to look at ways to improve the education sector in rural areas,” added Chaitezvi.
Regional manager for the Zimbabwe Open University in Manicaland Kenneth Saruchera promised to source books for such schools.
Besides the high literacy rate associated with Zimbabwe, school infrastructure has remained an eyesore and the government has been challenged to work on improving the education sector.
Manicaland provincial education deputy director Clara Kanoerera said a policy of education for all which even caters for elderly people has been in place since 1980.
She said that policy should be kept alive and that can only be done by making schools reachable especially in rural areas.
“Looking at this school there still a long way to go and it’s important that all progressive people come together and develop it,” she said.
“We still need adequate classrooms and toilets to enable it to be registered and also teachers’ houses should be completed as well as drilling safe water. We also expect an administration block too. I urge all of you to take good care of the donated materials and assume responsibility of the school.”
Eric Makoni (63) from Rupango village said, for him, a school in the area symbolises development.
He said as a community they can now mobilise some other resources like bricks to construct more blocks.
“I grew up in this area and my children walked long distances to school. It was not the best I expected for my children and now we have been given an opportunity to turn around that history for the benefit of future generation,” Makoni said.
“We are going to mobilise so that we mould bricks for the school and we can provide labour during construction. We can also contribute the little that we realise from farming to make this project a success.”
Other speakers commended Chipanga for the work he was doing in Makoni West. His constituents could not hide their joy too following Chipanga’s elevation to the Zanu PF politburo saying it will bring more positive results to Makoni West, a typically underdeveloped rural area in Zimbabwe.
Chipanga recently won the coveted Zanu PF deputy secretary for youth position, which gives him an automatic ticket to become a politburo member.