PRIMARY and Secondary Education secretary, Sylvia Utete-Masango has blamed the land reform programme for the deplorable state of schools in rural Matabeleland.
Responding to a question on why the government was neglecting schools in the southern region during an Improving Girls Access through Transforming Education’ (IGATE) meeting in Bulawayo last week, Utete-Masango admitted that the squalid learning and living conditions for teachers common in the region epitomises the monumental failure of the government’s land resettlement programme.
“With 2000, as we all know, the agrarian reform; there was movement. I have been to Matabeleland South, where we had even to navigate to where a satellite school is,” she said.
“So, at least, government had to make sure that children go school and these structures had to be put up. At the moment, they are satellite and this means they do not have the right infrastructure that is expected.”
Utete-Masango claimed the government is in the process of constructing new and modern schools throughout the country.
“Government has come up with programmes. You might not have heard, but as journalists, you must know that there is the joint venture partnership infrastructure development,” she said.
“A survey was done in 2013 and that time the deficit was 2 056 new schools — including also schools like Mpopoma, which has an enrolment of 4 000.”
Most school buildings in rural Matabeleland, particularly Binga, are comprised of huts made from pole and dagga with thatched roofs. Children have to sit on bare dusty floors, while teachers live in single dagga huts, some of them without doors.
On average, pupils in Matabeleland North walk for about 7km to schools.
The Senate Thematic Committee on Millennium Development Goals on the provision of education in resettled areas produced a damning report on the learning environment at most satellite schools set up in former commercial farming areas.
The report established that Zimbabwe has 701 satellite primary schools that were legally registered but do not have any budgetary allocation nor manpower.