AT least 67% of university students around the country were infected with sexually transmitted diseases (STIs) in the just ended academic year, the biggest local student union says.
The information is contained in a report titled ‘Impact of Privatisation of Education in Zimbabwe’ produced by the Student Union and Student Representative Councils (SRCs) from various tertiary institutions.
According to the Zimbabwe National Student’s Union (Zinasu) report, marriages of convenience are now rampant at tertiary institutions as both male and female students end up looking up to each for support.
Zinasu secretary general Makomborero Haruzivise, told NewZimbabwe.com that the most affected were poor female students.
He said most of them were vulnerable and ended up indulging in prostitution with businessmen, politicians and top government officials to make ends meet.
“This is so because of poverty; accommodation for most students is very expensive and they end up indulging to pay for accommodation and other basic needs.
“The mini-marriages have become so common; this has been found to be a solution as most things such as accommodation and food are now being shared.
“The situation has been made worse by the recent job losses; most parents who are now vendors cannot afford to look after their children adequately,” said Haruzivise.
According to the report, most STI cases were recorded in the Masvingo province where Great Zimbabwe University is situated.
“Most affected is Great Zimbabwe University’s Mashava campus where some female students are engaging in prostitution to pay for accommodation,” said Maruzivise.
He added: “Inongova njake njake (they just do what they please) as the students are not properly housed and there is no separation of houses for male and females.
“And to see how the situation has gone bad, the Masvingo general hospital has now opened a department that caters for STIs infected students only.”
Zinasu also bemoaned the lack of government support and called upon the authorities to heavily subsidise education in the country and assist students with grants.