'Diamond Rush' Children Spurn School

MUTARE – Education authorities in Manicaland are having a hard time persuading thousands of children who had abandoned school to join the diamond rush, to return to school.\r\n

The children no longer have access to the US dollars they were used to getting through the sale of illegal diamonds.

When schools reopened two weeks ago, after a lengthy period due to a strike by teachers, very few pupils turned up for classes in the Chiadzwa and Chirasika areas where the diamonds were discovered.

Teachers at schools around the diamond fields say they are failing to fill classrooms as most children who had gotten used to quick cash, were now reluctant to spend a whole day attending classes, where their chances of making money at the end of the day are next to nil.

A Form Four teacher Adelaide Marange, said only sixteen students turned up at her school.

It is now feared that the pupils might end up engaging in illegal activities as they were now used to handling a lot of cash.

The illegal mining and trading of diamonds came to an abrupt end last November after the government launched a ruthless campaign to flush out 20 000 illegal miners who had camped in the diamond field.

Human rights activists say close to 200 people were gunned down during the blitz. A social worker with an international relief organisation said schools around Chiadzwa need rehabilitation programmes for the children who had turned to illegal mining.

A Mutare based human rights campaigner Trust Maanda, said failure to address the problem would lead to a disaster as most of the children would end up as hard core criminals as they had been exposed to a lot of evils at the height of the illegal diamond craze.