Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
FORTY TWO percent of children in rural areas are not in school due to long distances one needs to travel to school and other hardships they face.
According to the latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report, there is also a worrying number of children not going to school at seven percent due to different illnesses.
“The proportion of children not attending school due to illness is a cause for concern. We recommend the prioritisation of resource allocation towards the strengthening of the School Feeding and School Health Programmes. The proportion of children of school going age who were not in school due to financial constraints remains significant. There is need for the Government to increase Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) funds so that vulnerable children can be supported,” reads the report.
“The reason that children were being considered too young to go to school and that of schools being too far may be suggestive of limited physical access to school, particularly those that cater for Early Child Development levels.”
The Zimvac report also said 63 percent of pupils were turned away from schools in rural areas over non-payment of school fees during the first term of this year.
The pupils were turned away in defiance of the Government’s policy that schools must not chase away pupils over fees, but must deal with parents or guardians.
The 2017 ZimVAC report on Rural Livelihood said Government should be tough on schools that violate children’s rights to education by turning them away.
“Nationally, at least 63 percent of the children experienced being turned away for non-payment of school fees. Generally, the proportion of children who were turned away from school during the first term of 2017 was high in all provinces. This is so despite there being in place a policy that discourages this practice,” reads the report.
The highest number of pupils were turned away from schools in Manicaland province which had 76 percent of children being sent home, while Masvingo had the least at 50 percent.
In the southern parts of the country, the Midlands province sent away 65 percent of pupils home, Matabeleland North 64 percent and Matabeleland South turned away 61 percent of its pupils over school fees.
Zimvac recommended that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should be strict in ensuring that the schools adhere to the stipulated policy.
“The high proportion of children who were turned away from school due to non-payment of school fees is worrisome. This calls for stricter monitoring of the implementation of the Government policy for universal primary education and its complementary policy which states that no child should be denied access to schooling for failure to pay school fees,” reads the report.