Spike in school dropouts disconcerting

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REPORTS early this week exposing a sharp increase in school dropouts across the country must be taken seriously.

The reports by Family Aids Caring Trust Zimbabwe (Fact) and the United Nations Children’s Fund must jolt parents and government to treat the matter as urgent and ensure all eligible children are in school or else we end up with an uneducated generation.

Over 20 000 girls have dropped out of school since 2020.

Fact said area such as Chipinge, Makoni, Mutasa, Buhera, Gutu and Mutare were the worst affected.

Mostly worrying is that the majority of these children are from poor  and marginalised families.

If such a statistic fails to unsettle families and policymakers, then nothing will.

This data exposes how Zimbabwe has created generations of perpetually poor people, and the poverty thread could be difficult to break.

In contrast, those born with silver spoons in their jaws continue to swim in luxury, with healthy literacy levels, which then translates into better opportunities.

As the UN report showed, illiteracy levels were high among children sitting at the lower end of the social strata, which translates into limited or no growth opportunities.

Unicef said: “With widespread school closures and other disruptions to the education system brought about by the pandemic, the learning crisis has escalated to new heights. While the number of out of school children had already started to climb for the first time in 20 years, in 2020 by all accounts the increase began accelerating.

“The findings indicate that wealth is the strongest predator, as children in the poorest quintile have 16% point lower likelihood of having foundational reading skills than children from the wealthiest quintile.”

If a society wants to create a generation of thieves, robbers and murderers, one of the things it must do is deny its children education.

Unfortunately, this seems to be the case in Zimbabwe, which is a complete failure by politicians to govern.

By denying children an education, the government is presiding over the creation of dangerous inequalities, which it claims it has been fighting.

It is unacceptable for poverty to continue to torment the poor, who are the majority, while the rich have unfettered access to the country’s resources.