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After Years of Government Neglect, Villagers Build Own School

Kapeni villagers in Matobo have taken it upon themselves to construct their own nearby primary school. Image by Unsplash

BY VUSINDLU MAPHOSA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | AUG 6, 2022

In Kapeni village, Matobo, the central government has not constructed a single school since the country gained independence from White rule. But villagers here are not dissuaded as they are now putting resources together to construct their own primary school.

MATOBO (The Citizen Bulletin) — David Nkomo is among a number of villagers of ward 5 in Kezi, Matobo district who have lost hope in the central government ever fulfilling its promise to build schools in their ward.     

Forty-two years after independence, learners from Kapeni ward have to walk as much as 20 kilometres every day to the nearest Mzila primary school located in the neighbouring Beula ward.

“During the rainy season, our children fail to attend classes as the rivers would be flooded.”
David Nkomo, a villager

“We cannot even blame the children for performing badly in their final examinations. The hope that the government would build schools in our ward has since died.”

In June, Primary and Secondary Education minister Evelyn Ndlovu said the central government will build 35 new schools across the country this year alone.

In November, the government announced plans to build 3000 new schools by 2025.

However, there is no breakdown of how many schools would be built per district such as Matobo.

There are 82 primary schools in Matobo district, and the new Mnyaka primary school being built by the community at Kapeni village makes them 83.

Villagers allege that the central government has not built a school in Kapeni village after several decades since Zimbabwe gained independence from White rule.

With no assistance from the government, villagers in the area with help from locals now residing in foreign lands, are now trying to mobilise resources including providing labour to construct a school.

Mnyaka Primary School project manager, Luke Ncube says children in their area have lost interest in school because of the long distances they have to travel.

“To reach Mzila Primary School requires commitment, and one has to wake up very early, as early as 4am,” Ncube says. “The completion of our Mnyaka School will definitely ease the challenge, and also help improve the pass rate.”

Ncube says Gwemala and Kapeni rivers always get flooded every rainy season, forcing students to miss out on lessons fearing being swept away.

“We therefore appeal to well-wishers to help us with other material resources towards the construction of the school. We seriously have very big gaps in terms of schools in our area.”

Villagers have not received any support under the Constituency Development Fund towards the construction of the school.

A former teacher from the ward, Nomazwe Moyo says the area has many school dropouts as learners were only going as far as attaining primary education due to lack of schools.

“It is not easy for our children to prioritise their education when it is not easy to reach school, that's why they end up dropping out of school,” he says.

Moyo says the construction of classroom blocks are now at window level with hopes that in a few months, students from Kapeni village will be having their own school.

“We are also planning to conduct adult lessons and practical work skills education at the school for the creation of employment to our youths in our area.”

Ward 5 councillor, Madalaboy Ndebele says they never received any support under the Constituency Development Fund (CDF) towards the construction of their school.

The CDF was first introduced in 2010 primarily as a development vehicle through which Members of Parliament (MPs) carry out projects in their constituencies that impact on the daily lives of their communities.

Some of the projects include road repairs, construction of dip tanks, libraries, refurbishment of schools and clinics and local income-generating projects.

The fund would bypass central bureaucracies and channel funding to community level to improve people’s livelihoods.

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“The school is being built by the locals. There has been no CDF support. Our children mostly based in South Africa are funding the project, but we still need more help,” Ndebele says.

Matobo Rural District Council (RDC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Elvis Sibanda, says the council currently has no budget to assist the villagers.

“As the RDC we had not planned an activity for this year. We just hope that we will roll out budget consultation meetings as we interact with the community for next year,” Sibanda says.

*Edited by Lizwe Sebatha | Fact Checked & Proofread by Melody Mpande | Reviewed & Commissioned by Divine Dube.

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