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Vusumuzi Mahlangu at a radio discussion that was conducted by Women's Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)

Zimbabwean economy crippling access to education

The current economic meltdown that the country is faced with is gradually denying children their full enjoyment of civic rights, such as access to education. This was raised during an edition of the In Her Own Voice discussion that was conducted at Skyz Metro FM with a representative from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and two women with children of a school going age.

Vusumuzi Mahlangu of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) at a radio discussion that was conducted by Women’s Institute for Leadership Development (WILD)

The radio program was held at a time when schools had just opened, characterized with adjustments to the fees structure at a number of learning institutions. The untimely fees hike now affects the manner that parents and guardians draw up budgets in the home, as it siphons the bulk of the budget leaving other expenses unattended.

“Schools have introduced a system where parents and guardians now have a responsibility of purchasing resources such as food items as well as stationery for the betterment of the learning environment,” said Vusumuzi Mahlangu, a representative from the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).

However, there are pitfalls that arise from introducing food items in schools, and these include lack of concentration of the less fortunate children whose parents and guardians are unable to live up to the requirements. The Constitutional provisions to accessing education are undermined.

“The learning environment becomes less receptive when a child’s parent and/or guardian does not meet the school requirements of purchasing the necessary food items,” added Mahlangu. “It is the child who suffers the most as minimal attention is granted to them by the teacher.”

Women pinpointed some of the challenges that they encounter in trying to provide an education for their children.

“The economic state of the country may actually lead to more cases of school drop outs as we the parents and guardians can no longer keep up with the escalation of prizes of basic commodities and payment of tuition fees,” said Nokwethemba Sikhosana, an active Ward Advocacy Committee (WAC) member, from Lobengula.

“Unemployed mothers encounter a series of hardships as they have to find alternative means that can make it possible for their children not to miss classes due to unpaid tuition and levies,” emphasized Mirriam Sibanda, a concerned parent.

According to women’s perspective, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education ought to assist through introducing a rights based solution that will act as a mitigation to problems that teachers, parents and school children encounter.

 

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