Residents sue council over lack of schools

BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA

THE Harare Residents Trust (HRT) has taken council to court for allegedly violating the educational rights of children in Tynwald South by converting spaces reserved for schools and recreational parks into residential stands.

In its High Court application, HRT represented by Fiona Iliff of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR), cited City of Harare, Primary and Secondary Education minister and Local Government minister as respondents.

HRT director Precious Shumba said Tynwald South was in 1996 designated specifically to cater for low-income earners, with two-roomed houses built for the families by international humanitarian partners.

However, both the local authority and government have failed to establish adequate public amenities to service the area, with land reserved for schools and clinics sold, subdivided and leased to private developers.

In his affidavit, Shumba said the initial plan provided for at least one public primary school to service every 600 households, before private developers took over and set up private schools.

“This has left low-income families with limited options to enable their young children to access education. Parents and caregivers are forced to travel long distances to accompany their children to and from schools in neighbouring areas, depriving them of critical working hours in which to earn income for the family, and forcing them to pay transport fares for both student and caregiver to and from schools. Young children have to travel the long distances unaccompanied, putting their lives and safety at risk; or families are forced into poverty by having to pay the fees for private schools in Tynwald South. As a result of these restricted options, many children in the area are not able to access school,” Shumba argued.

He said stand number 1511 was reserved for a crèche or primary school, but it has since been sold and developed into a private school, Dominic’s High School.

“Stand number 2260 was reserved for a council crèche or primary school, but again, in contravention of the objections of the community, it has been developed into a private school, Mother Touch Secondary School.”

He added that council and government had ignored previous petitions, hence the decision to seek recourse at the High Court.

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