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San Struggle To Access Education Due To Poverty

San parents are struggling to pay for their children's education. Image by Khomani San Living Heritage

BY VUSINDLU MAPHOSA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | APR 15, 2021

The stereotype of being primitive is now being perpetuated by poverty affecting the younger generation in this community.

TSHOLOTSHO (The Citizen Bulletin) — An estimated 300 school going San children in Tsholotsho Matabeleland North need fees assistance to go to school amid revelations their parents are failing to raise the money due to poverty.
The San community in Tsholotsho is mostly found at Sanqinyana, Gariya and Dlamini villages.   
A San community member Malaki Tshuma says life is a nightmare for him and other San community members who are struggling to send their children to school.

“I have children who go to both secondary and primary schools but paying for them is a struggle. I have no means of making money since I am not formally employed.”
Malaki Tshuma, a parent

Tshuma says in Tsholotsho villages where San people are found, Mpilo Primary School has 65 children who fail to pay fees.
Another San community member Christopher Dube confirms this.

“There are so many children who are failing to go to school due to failure by their parents to raise school fees, and at the moment, most of them are not getting any help from anywhere,” Dube says.
He appeals for the well-wishers to come to the San community’s rescue, adding that they lag on development and education issues.

Another San community member who only preferred to be called MaMoyo says she is traumatised daily when she sees other children going to school when hers are not paid for because of poverty.

“I am unable to pay fees for my two children, one going for primary and another for secondary education. At times schools send back the children to collect fees, but what can we do when we have no source of income, we simply push them to school, hoping they will be lucky to be allowed or to get a well-wisher to assist us, but all is not well with most of us,” she says.

For many years, San people have lived on hunting and gathering. Image by Khomani San Living Heritage

Tsoro-o-otso San Development Trust, an organisation lobbying for the rights of the San community’s Director Davy Ndlovu of Dlamini village, says they may be over 300 who need assistance in paying fees, according to the organisation’s snap survey.
“There are so many children who are failing to pay school fees even counting them is not worth it because all the San parents are failing to pay. There are over 300 children who need to be assisted with school fees. Even at John Landa Secondary school, they are not paying, and if we do not have anything to help them, it becomes worse. But we agreed with John Landa Nkomo Secondary that if we manage to get mealie meal, we assist them with that,” Ndlovu says.
He says they are making an assessment of the situation, and after that, they will then hold a policy engagement with stakeholders to get a way forward.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Spokesperson Taungana Ndoro says the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) is a government programme that pays Primary and Secondary education school fees for students who cannot afford it Zimbabwe.
“The programme is coordinated by the Department of Social Services (DSS) of the Ministry of Labour and Social Services. BEAM does not cover other materials needed for schools such as uniforms, food, transport, books and stationery,” says Ndoro.

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“BEAM is a programme that provides school fees, examination fees, levies and building assistance. The Government of Zimbabwe introduced it in 2001. It targets the vulnerable children who are unable to pay school fees or those who fail to go to school as a result of non-availability of money.”

He warns that no school can send children home because of fees, but the schools must engage parents for a payment plan. He says no report has been received from the San community about their problems.

The San population is estimated to be over 2 500 across the country. Tsholotsho has San families in wards 1, 2, 7, 8 and 10. For thousands of years, San people have lived on hunting and gathering.

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