Anger over plan to close schools

HARARE - Ill-conceived plans by the government to close 40 schools in Matabeleland South, on account of dwindling enrolments, have triggered outrage among ordinary Zimbabweans and civil society groups alike.

This comes as teachers have also called for a re-think on the government’s moves to introduce a new curriculum, which has apparently resulted in some parents in Matabeleland withdrawing their children from local schools, preferring the South African and Botswana education systems.

In the shocking move on Monday, the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education announced that it was planning to close 40 schools in Matabeleland South, citing low enrolments and a lack of teachers.

Rather ill-advisedly, the government also claimed that it was “uneconomical” to continue running the schools targeted for closure.

As expected, the move has not gone down well with both local residents and civil society groups accusing the government of being insensitive to the plight of the poor, and the people of Matabeleland in particular, who have long felt marginalised by the State.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition spokesperson, Dumisani Nkomo, said the move would be challenged vigorously.

“This move smacks of further alienation, discrimination and marginalisation of an already exploited region.

“We reiterate our position that we are vehemently opposed to the closing of schools to the already historical disadvantaged regions of Matabeleland.

“We will not stand by idly as the rights of children are violated. We call upon our members to resist this insane move.

“It is frivolous and vexatious for the government to claim that these schools are not viable when the government is presiding over more than 50 loss-making parastatals and yet these loss-making entities are still dear to government,” Nkomo said.

He also said the government’s decision was a flagrant violation of section 75 of the Constitution, which ensured the right to education, as well as section 81 which upheld children’s rights.

The Community Development Trust (CDT) also described the decision to close the schools as “totally unacceptable as it violates the children’s right to education”.

“This is based on a flawed, outdated and ill-conceived policy of one teacher to 40 students, which is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ policy that does not consider differences in settlement patterns and population sizes of various communities of Zimbabwe and in Matabeleland.

“In this policy directive, the ministry ... did not consider the best interests of the children but its own administrative interests, which is wrong,” CDT director Nkululeko Tshuma said.

Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) director, Jenni Williams, who has had several run-ins with the government, also had no kind words for authorities.

“It is clear that government is taking Gukurahundi to the education sector now. As someone from this region, we have long faced marginalisation and some of us believe de-industrialisation was an evolved form of Gukurahundi.

“Note the manner in which it (Gukurahundi) has come in another format to the education sector, where firstly they send teachers who cannot teach in the mother tongue, thereby reducing the ability of kids to learn and secondly under-deploying teachers to schools in this region,” the outspoken Williams told the Daily News.

The Abammeli Lawyers for Human Rights also described the move as unconstitutional.

“The government cannot close schools just like that. They have to follow administrative rules. This is a violation of the Constitution

“There must be consideration of transparency, accountability and reasonability. They have to consult the people first because honestly you can make a kid walk for about 20 kilometres and that alone makes the decision to be unreasonable,” its coordinator, Tineyi Mukwewa, said.

Meanwhile, teachers have said the low enrolment in some parts of Matabeleland was a consequence of the new school curriculum which had seen parents withdrawing their children from schools and taking them to neighbouring South Africa and Botswana in protest.

Comments (3)

So what happens to those children who will be affected by the closure of the schools? Is government now running schools for profit? If so then all government departments that are not making profit should also close as this will be a precedent that we will have set.

jocks - 25 May 2017

What does the ministry mean by "uneconomical to continue running the schools"? Because there are not enough parents to milk? Is the ministry running a business or a public service?? Where is Dofora when pertinent issues are at stake? Too busy importing a curriculum from China which is a far cry from the Zimbabwe ituation.

Jonso - 26 May 2017

The grandplan for zanu through Dokora is to make sure the disadvantaged will remain so forever by directing stoneage academia this will make sure sons from the poor citizenry will not be relevant to any modern Zimbabwe. This while their (zanupf gurus) kids who are all abroad get quality highly regarded international education that competes anywhere in the world.

Sinyo - 26 May 2017

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