Refugee children miss school

MUTARE - At least 265 Mozambican child refugees have missed class during the last term due to staff shortages at Tongogara Primary School (TPS), despite the United Nations offering to pay teachers’ salaries, a senior government official has said.

Tongogara Refugee Camp administrator Meshack Zengeya told Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira during a tour of the facility on Thursday that the school needs an additional 11 teachers.

“We hope that honourable minister you help in speeding up the process because the money to pay them is there,” Zengeya said.

TPS head Alec Mlambo said the school has 1 700 children enrolled and would need at least seven early childhood development teachers and four junior grade teachers to admit the 265 children into the school.

“Considering the recommended teacher-pupil ratio, we will need an additional seven ECD teachers and four for others for us to be able to accommodate the children.

“We have made a formal request, and out DSI (district school inspector) is aware of this since we sent the request through his officer,” Mlambo said.

Mupfumira committed to engage the Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora over the issue.

“I’ll sit down with my colleague minister . . . Dokora and discuss this issue. I don’t see where the delays could be if the money is there,” Mupfumira said.

Zengeya also said the refugee children were also failing to pursue their education up to ‘A’ level due to budget cuts by the UNHCR.

“UNHCR used to send ‘A’ Level students to boarding schools but it is now facing financial challenges. For two years now, all children who completed ‘O’ Level are seated in the refugee camp. They are waiting for an ‘A’ level school to be established,” Zengeya said.

He said they are now waiting for the upgrading of St Michael Secondary School in the camp.

“We are working on meeting certain requirements like an additional administration block, laboratory block and other issues that UNHCR is also helping with,” Zengeya said.

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