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Infrastructure haunts Matabeleland schools resulting in some children learning in the open. Image by Zenzele Ndebele
An unending challenge of poor access to quality education in Matabeleland is premised on several issues including poor infrastructure. With the rainy season a few months away, this could get worse.
NKAYI (The Citizen Bulletin) — With the rainy season approaching in a few months, hundreds of pupils in Nkayi district schools are bracing for a fresh wave of harsh, routine learning conditions when schools reopen.
Several classroom blocks, toilets and teachers' cottages are dilapidated and in urgent need of rehabilitation. Over the years, during rainy seasons, pupils have been forced to crowd in classrooms without a leak, compromising the learning process.
Community leaders say the poor state of infrastructure has dogged the district for years and the situation is getting worse.
This has had a direct bearing on the perennial poor pass rate. Despite pleas for urgent attention, Matabeleland North education authorities profess ignorance of the situation.
A survey conducted by The Citizen Bulletin established that about nine schools need urgent attention as they lack key infrastructure. Villagers and local opinion leaders are appealing for resources to uplift the standards of the educational institutions to enable a conducive learning environment.
Nkayi’s ward 12 Councillor Elvis Nkomo who is also a villager in the area says some schools are made of mud bricks.
“At Sebhumane some children learn in the open under trees and this has been going on for too long. The school needs about two classroom blocks to resolve that crisis. Sikhobokhobo primary school also has classroom blocks made of mud bricks and have now developed cracks posing a serious danger to the learners and teachers,” says Nkomo.
“There is a need for the reconstruction of those classroom blocks. The schools already had a shortage of two blocks forcing children to crowd in some classrooms or learn under trees.”
Elvis Nkomo, Ward 12 Councillor
He says the problem of ablution facilities and teachers' cottages applies to most schools. At Sikhobokhobo Secondary, Nkomo says one classroom block has been completed recently through the Constituency Development Fund.
At Ekukhanyeni secondary, toilets collapsed four years ago and the school is still in need of this crucial facility, however, teachers’ cottages are reportedly in a better state.
Former Nkayi Rural District Council’s chairperson Kufakwezwe Ncube says in ward 29 there are four schools, two primary and two secondary schools namely Dimpamiwa, Mathendele primaries, Nkayi High and Hlangabeza High School respectively.
“All these schools have not received any help from government, council or nongovernmental organisations except Mathendele Primary which had a borehole drilled for it by UNICEF recently.”
UNICEF has reportedly drilled boreholes in some schools in Nkayi to cater for water challenges. Image by UNICEF
However, Matabeleland North Provincial Education Director Jabulani Mpofu said he could not substantiate the 'claims'.
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“I cannot comment on those schools because I am not sure if that is true, but what I know is that all schools are having boreholes drilled and those schools without enough classroom blocks were given tents.”
“Curitus (NGO) is there in Nkayi currently drilling boreholes and according to the Education spokesperson all schools were being assisted with water boreholes in preparation for opening.”
Former Nkayi Chief Executive officer Zimbabwe Ndlovu recently addressed residents in a virtual meeting to discuss development in the district and called for a holistic approach in sourcing funds.
“We must gather money under Nkayi District Education Fund to address the education challenges in our areas, together we will resolve the challenges,” Ndlovu said in the meeting.
“With such a fund we can even establish not only technical colleges but universities and powerful business schools.”
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