The walk to school that put lives at risk

CHIVI - Each morning just before 3am, Mai Moyo and her 13-year-old son hold hands, close their eyes and bow their heads.

“Please, protect my son, dear Lord, as he heads to school and back,” she prays over the lanky Form Two pupil.

Then it’s off to school: a four-hour walk through Ngundu forests, in a trip that cuts across a busy corridor to Chirundu on the border with Zambia and the busiest road linking the country to its major trading partner South Africa. The boy gets back home from school around 9pm.

Ngundu Halt Secondary School is 17km from home. Since January, four children have been killed on the busy highway while heading to school.

The students’ daily journey understandably requires a call for divine intervention as they go among invisible boundaries, tip-toeing around neighbourhood grudges and wild animals.

The boy is one of hundreds of public school students that take a distressingly long walk to school, crossing dangerous intersections and neighbourhoods. 

But the community isn’t sitting back.

The Chivi Rural District Council chairman Killer Zivhu has led a growing movement of parents and activists in developing a formula to address the crisis.

Zivhu on Wednesday started building a nearby, safe, sufficiently-funded public school in the neighbourhood.  Chebvumbi Secondary School is poised to serve as a neighbourhood anchor and point of pride for generations of residents who will go to the nearby school.

For many parents, their children’s long trek to school made them anxious. The new school will go a long way in reducing dropouts hindered by long distances to the nearest schools.

Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony of the secondary school on Wednesday, which is under Chief Madzivire, Simon Musendere said many pupils were discouraged from going to school because of the long distances.

“Most of our kids, especially girls, dropped out of secondary school because they could not stand walking 34 kilometres every day to school,” he said. “It is not that we cannot afford paying fees for them.

“We really applaud the initiative to build a secondary school in our vicinity as this will encourage our children to further their studies.”

Zivhu, who donated thousands of bags of cement for brick moulding, said he expects the school to open soon.

“If all goes well, enrolment should start next year, with the blessings of the ministry of Education officials here,” he said.

“Pupils here should not walk such long distances to school, which places them at an unfair position over their colleagues in town.

“I am prepared to provide all the building materials for two blocks, now that the villagers are also participating by moulding bricks and fetching water. I also expect a buy-in from other stakeholders, but that can only happen after we do something on the ground.”

He called on aid agencies and other government departments such as the army to provide manpower to help build the school and stem the problem.

Ministry of Education official Diga Mandiudza said government was open to private-public partnerships in the provision of education.

Comments (2)

Beautiful. I know this area amd hopefully a new school will develop. Good job Killer.

Munya Hwami - 1 December 2015

Chivi and Chirundu on Zambia border??

Tangai Mapfumo - 15 June 2017

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