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32% of Zimbabwe rural pupils out of school as they cannot afford school fees

ABOUT 32 percent of pupils in the country’s rural provinces have dropped out of school due to their parents’ failure to pay school fees, a study has revealed. The Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (Zimvac) 2016 Rural Livelihoods Assessment report released recently shows that although 32 percent of pupils dropped out of school due to financial constraints, there was an increase in the number of children in school compared to 2015.

The school attendance increased to 85 percent from 76 percent in the previous year. A total of 15 percent were recorded to be out of school in 2016 compared to 24 percent in 2015. Some of the reasons cited for failure by children to go to school include long distance, disability, pregnancy or marriage while others were not interested in going to school.

“About 32 percent of the children were not in school due to financial constraints followed by 24 percent who were considered to be too young. Disability was amongst the reasons with the lowest frequency,” reads the report. The study revealed that five percent of the children were said to be out of school due to illness while one percent was not attending school due to disability.

 According to the report, four percent of the population is said to have dropped out of school due to distance while an additional three percent was said to be uninterested in education. The report has also cited hunger as one of the reasons leading to children dropping out of school.

Recently, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education revealed that 31 percent of pupils in Matabeleland South were completing Grade Seven, but not proceeding to Form One. The Provincial Education Director, Mrs Tumisang Thabela, cited distance to schools, failure to pay school fees, teenage pregnancies among other reasons.

She said in 2015 the province had 20 342 Grade Seven pupils and only 12 776 managed to enrol for Form One. Mrs Thabela said a study needs to be conducted to ascertain where the population of drop outs goes to after completing Grade Seven.

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