Government council must act on squatter camp school

Ngozi Mine

Ngozi Mine

PART of the country’s national objectives as pronounced by the Constitution of Zimbabwe zero in on education. The section on education says; “The State must take all practical measures to promote (a) free and compulsory basic education for children; and (b) higher and tertiary education . . . (2) The State must take measures to ensure that girls are afforded the same opportunities as boys to obtain education at all levels.

In June, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a new resolution on the right to education within the framework of its 35th session, which stresses Unesco’s lead role for Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4). The resolution reaffirms the importance of ensuring the human right to education as defined by international conventions, including notably Unesco’s Convention against Discrimination in Education, says the UN.

“The Resolution calls upon States to give full effect to the right to education, notably by “putting in place a regulatory framework for education providers guided by international human rights obligations”, and to promote technical vocational education and training as a means of ensuring the realisation of the right to education. The Resolution also encourages States to measure progress in the realisation of the right to education, such as by developing national indicators, and to consider justiciability when determining the best way to give domestic legal effect to the right to education.”

In light of the above, we urge the Government and the Bulawayo City Council to be proactive and ensure that children living at squatter camps in Bulawayo (and similar settlements across the country) have access to proper education. In the previous edition of this paper, we reported that about 300 children at Ngozi Mine squatter camp in Bulawayo are attending “school” in their surroundings manned by untrained personnel, who were simply “teaching them the basics of how to read and write”.

We believe such a scenario is a recipe of disaster, as it does not give the children proper education grounding to prepare them for the future so as to be well resourced adults who will be able to look after themselves and also help in the development of the country.

While the gesture by those running the said school might be noble, we however, note that what the children are getting in the name of education is a far cry from what they should get and thus, we believe responsible authorities should chip in without any further delay. If the children cannot be absorbed at nearby formal schools, then efforts should be made to formalise the school and ensure that trained teachers are seconded so that kids learn what is prescribed by the relevant ministry.

Squatters established an illegal school within the camp as they shun formal education arguing that not only is it expensive but their children are also subjected to stereotyping within formal schools. Our news crew visited the area and noted that the illegal school is complete with a school building, improvised teachers, electricity connections and a makeshift library to cater for the plus 300 pupils who are all of primary school going ages.

“The Acting Director of Housing and Community Services, Mr Dictor Khumalo advised that Ngozi Mine and Killarney squatters were a challenge. Even if they were removed from the areas they usually returned within a short space of time. Some of them own houses which they rent out elsewhere preferring to squat. At Ngozi Mine an illegal school had now been developed. Rangers would be sent to the recently established illegal squatter areas,” reads the report.