300 Epworth pupils stranded

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Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira

THE Epworth Local Board has accused government of shortchanging over 300 school-going children by delaying appointment of teachers for two schools recently built in the area, forcing some pupils to either walk long distances to neighbouring schools or stay at home.

BY SILENCE CHARUMBIRA

Board chairperson Tafireyi Murambidzi told NewsDay last week that initial plans were that the newly-built Mabvazuva Secondary School and Glenwood Primary School would open in January, but failed as the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has not yet given them the teachers.

The schools were built by the Epworth Local Board to accommodate the ever-increasing demand for education facilities in the area.

prisca-mupfumira5 Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira

“It is now becoming a desperate situation. Last week they [Education ministry officials] told us they were working on it, but up to now there is no news. It is now unlikely that the schools will open this term. If they do open next term, it means another cost of getting new uniforms for those that have gone to alternative schools as well as transfer hassles,” Murambidzi said.

“Mabvazuva was supposed to enrol Forms 1 and 2, while Glenwood was supposed to enrol Grades 1 and 2, but as is the situation, it is becoming hopeless.”

Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira was unreachable for comment yesterday and at the time of going to print had not responded to questions emailed to her last week.

Murambidzi also claimed that thousands of residents whose houses were demolished in Harare’s Arlington Estate along Airport Road had flocked to Epworth to seek alternative accommodation.

He said while it was difficult to ascertain the numbers as the bulk of the new arrivals sought rented accommodation, they expected the numbers to increase and exert more pressure on the existing infrastructure.

“Of course, some went to other places, but thousands came to Epworth. I have a relative here staying at my house and have personally witnessed hundreds of trucks bringing in new people. The effect would not be instant as most of them are staying with relatives and some are tenants at existing homes, but very soon unplanned settlements will mushroom,” he said.

“It will also affect service delivery as the facilities we have already cannot cater for the residents we have. Now the Ministry of Health has asked us to pay our own medical staff including nurses and it means there would be a huge strain on the little resources we have.”