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000 pupils drop out of school as hunger bites
Hlatshwayo, Radio VOP
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Almost 3 000 pupils in
primary and secondary schools in Matabeleland South province have
dropped out of school this year mainly due to hunger as starvation
in the drought prone region reaches alarming levels.
Ironically, the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) provincial depot in Gwanda is virtually empty
with no maize deliveries amid revelations that Zambia which has
been providing the staple food to Zimbabwe on debt is now demanding
cash payment up front.
and Irrigation Development deputy minister responsible for cropping
Davis Marapira on Monday lamented the hunger situation in the province.
“One of the reasons
we are here is because we heard that school pupils are abandoning
school due to hunger and the solution lies in revitalising irrigated
schemes,” said Marapira during a tour of Chelesa Irrigation
Scheme in Guyu, south of Gwanda town.
Once Africa’s breadbasket,
Zimbabwe has turned into a basket case importing maize for the sustenance
of its populace.
Marapira conceded the
country has turned into "beggars".
The irrigation scheme
is experiencing water supply problems due to intermittent power
cuts and is not helping much in alleviating the hunger situation.
School children in most
rural areas walk long distances to and from school and statistics
from the ministry of education indicate that Gwanda district has
the highest school dropouts with a total of 1 130 school children
having abandoned learning since the beginning of this year.
Matobo and Beitbridge
have recorded 703 and 639 school drop outs respectively and government
has been urged to introduce supplementary feeding schemes in schools
to alleviate starvation among school children.
Umzingwane has had just
over 400 dropouts with the least affected being Mangwe district
with over 60 pupils having dropped out of school.
of the pupils have dropped out of school due to economic hardships
and pregnancy most of them have been affected by hunger and can
no longer cope with having to walk long distances on empty stomachs”
said an official with the ministry of education who spoke on condition
of anonymity as the official is not allowed to entertain media enquiries.
In the past
years some Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) provided food supplements
to children in schools but have since stopped doing so due to political
interference as they are often accused of meddling in the country’s
Minister of State responsible for provincial affairs in Matabeleland
South province, Abedinico Ncube, warned NGOs he accused of being
fond of interfering in the country’s political affairs that
they risked being chucked out of the country.
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