The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) is riled by the rot that is unfolding in rural areas where most schools are said to have turned away 63% of pupils from school because of lack of fees.Statistics from the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) 2017 Rural Livelihoods Assessment Report overtly points to a debilitating education system caused by a downward trend of incomes of rural households since 2014.
What is more worrisome is that the government through the responsible (or the irresponsible) ministry have chosen to be embroiled in a blame game with schools instead of harnessing the looming crisis of school drop outs caused by lack of fees.
The government through its state media mouthpiece, The Herald of 01 August 2017 has distanced itself from the fees hikes which have left many rural pupils with no option but to drop out from school. On the other hand, schools argue that it is a constitutional responsibility of the government to subsidize basic education.
In the midst of such a taunting blame game, it is the future of pupils that is being deliberately decimated.
If the ZimVAC statistics of school drop outs in rural areas is anything to go by, what this entails is that the rural development is being downgraded and sacrificed. In fact, the deleterious consequences of this negation of responsibility to subsidize basic education will be felt in the few more years to come.
The government by not stamping its authority on the fate of pupils being turned away is slowly but surely authoring a waterloo on rural development and the social fabric of the society. What will become of these pupils that are being turned away at such a bizarre and alarming rate? Are we not breeding brooding future societal social problems?
As a pro-poor and pro-rural development teachers’ union, ARTUZ urges the government and all the responsible officials to take action on the issue of pupils being turned away because of the inability to pay fees.
ARTUZ also urge President Robert Mugabe to make a statement on the issue of pupils that are being turned away just as he did demanding the reinstatement of those 2000 retrenched youths of voting age. If the President is sincere about addressing issues of young people, the same privilege should be accorded to these poor pupils who are being turned away because of poverty authored by the same government he heads.
ARTUZ INFORMATION DEPARTMENT