No books, no chairs, no desks

Thousands of young Zimbabweans are desperately trying to get an education under trying and squalid conditions at ill-equipped schools hastily established in the wake of the chaotic land reform exercise.

BR>After washing herself and putting on a sun-bleached uniform, Sheila Moyo takes a 15- kilometre journey to her nearest primary school, in Umzingwane, Matabeleland South.
She is not sure whether she will find the books and furniture the headmaster promised when schools closed at the end of last term.
Still ringing in her mind are his hopeful words: “We have been promised books and furniture by donors and hopefully at the opening of the term, all of us here will have chairs and desks to facilitate the smooth learning process.”
But this has been the end of term speech by the headmaster since the establishment of the school four years ago, shortly after the government’s chaotic and often bloody land redistribution programme.
Moyo, now in Grade Four, has never used a textbook, sat on a school bench or used a desk since she enrolled at Esiphezini rural primary school located in the resettlement area
She is one of thousands of pupils trying to get an education under trying and squalid conditions at schools hastily established in resettlement areas in the aftermath of the land reform exercise.
Children as young as seven are walking distances of up to 20 kilometres to attend schools that do not even have basic educational facilities such as classrooms, furniture, books, stationery or qualified teachers.
They are housed in pole and dagga huts and most teachers shy away from fear of the war veterans who are known for unleashing violence on those perceived to be opposition supporters.
Water problems also add to the plethora of challenges facing the schools after the war veterans stripped invaded properties of borehole and irrigation equipment for re-sale.
Transport is a major problem as there are no road networks linking the resettlement areas and the outside world.
“The government has failed the education sector and the new schools that have been established in the resettlement areas are going to put the quality of education in serious jeopardy,” said Raymond Majongwe, the secretary general of the Progressive Union Teachers of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).
Zimbabwe’s education system, once lauded as the best in Africa, has collapsed due to mismanagement and corruption, weighed down by the country’s biting economic crises. Reports say over 4500 Zimbabwe teachers quit their jobs in frustration between January and April this year in protest over poor salaries and working conditions. – Own correspondent

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