Is something happening we should know about? Our readers give us some of our best story ideas.

WhatsApp: +263 7 18636459
Twitter: @TheCB_News
Facebook: The Citizen Bulletin

Legacy Problems Haunt Mat North Schools As First Term Begins

School in Binga...Most Mat North schools lack basic amenities. Image by Zenzele Ndebele

BY CALVIN MANIKA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | FEB 15, 2022

The effects of poor infrastructure in schools can also be seen in learners' dropout rates and poor-teacher retention rates.

LUPANE (The Citizen Bulletin) – Schools opened on February 7 for the first term, but legacy problems haunt the public education system in Matabeleland North.

Abandoned and dilapidated classrooms, pit toilets and other damaged school infrastructure describe the picture of several schools in the region.

Schools were closed for the better part of 2020 and 2021 over COVID-19 fears, but no meaningful investments were made during their closure.

It is a case of missed opportunity, parents and other stakeholders say.

Martin Moyo, a Lupane villager, says the government was supposed to construct more schools to decongest classes, or improve existing facilities.

“The government should have put a deliberate policy on school construction. I believe the funds were available,” Moyo says.

“Many companies donated cash which could have been channelled to construct spacious classrooms or even construct new schools to shorten the walking distance and decongest schools.”

An investigation by this publication shows that the majority of schools in Matabeleland North still do not qualify to hold classes under the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP), a COVID-19 regulation tool by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry.

The SOP’s emphasise the need to improve sanitation and purchase Protective Clothing Equipment (PPEs) for learners and teachers. Under the SOPs, hot-seating is discouraged while a maximum of 35 learners per class and frequent disinfection of classrooms is encouraged.

Critics who spoke to The Citizen Bulletin say the province’s education sector legacy problems should have been addressed during the COVID-19 induced school closures.

“Every important government programme is launched here; summits and conferences are held here. We even supply electricity to the nation, but our children have no proper schools. It baffles me.”
Cleopas Ncube, Chinotimba resident in Victoria Falls

In 2020, a number of Matabeleland North schools were hit by COVID-19 with John Tallach in Ndabazinduma recording more than 100 cases.

In October, 2021 Sino Hydro Corporation Limited Company extended its corporate social responsibility to Neshaya Secondary school in Hwange by donating full furniture worth thousands of dollars.

500 pairs of furniture donated to Neshaya Secondary School by the Chinese company. Image by The Citizen Bulletin

The Chinese company donated 500 pairs of furniture units comprising a chair and desk each to ease decongestion at the school.

A month later, Matabeleland North provincial minister of State Richard Moyo officiated at the opening of an ECD classroom block at the local board-run Nechibondo Primary School also in Hwange.

Phillip Sibanda of Binga says this is not enough.

“It's so sad to see our children attending classes in dilapidated premises after walking several kilometers. Ever since the COVID-19 emerged, no improvements have been made. Instead, nature has been taking a toll on the old premises,” a disgruntled Sibanda says.

Greater Whange Residents Trust (GWRT) Coordinator Fedelis Chima says COVID-19 donations should have been used to complement education infrastructure development efforts.

“They (authorities) should use COVID-19 donations to decongest classrooms by building more classes and setting up facilities for e-learning,” says Chima.

ALSO READ: Lupane Government Complex: An Election Gimmick To 'Buy' Votes

Matabeleland Institute of Human Rights (MIHR) coordinator Khumbulani Maphosa argues that School Development Committees (SDCs) must be capacitated to coordinate infrastructure development programs.

“I think there is a need to capacitate SDCs; there is a need for the government to partner Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and capacitate SDCs,” says Maphosa.

“We are supposed to be a people starting devolution of power and if one looks at the SDCs Manual it is very clear that SDCs have a mandate to fundraise for the developmental projects of the schools.”

“We need to extend the term of SDCs to more than one-year and also to elect members who have proven to be developmental even in their personal lives.”

 Do you have a hyperlocal story to share?

WhatsApp us on: +263 71 863 6459.  Email us on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Since You’re Here, We’ve a Small Request…

Our hard-hitting hyperlocal reporting and analysis reaches one in every three people across the greater region of Matabeleland, southwestern Zimbabwe. That means our content reaches approximately 60,000 readers each week. However, in order for our well-rounded journalism to reach more people who need it to make informed decisions about their lives and their communities, we need to build a strong audience of followers that would receive our rigorous reporting in just one place. Because of exorbitant internet data costs, we know most of our readers use messaging apps such as WhatsApp to get all our content in one place. But the platform, predominantly used by our readers, is not primarily designed for content distribution and reader engagement. That is why we’re building a WhatsApp Bot to navigate this challenge. But in order for this strategy to work effectively to serve our needs, we want all our casual readers like you to be part of our growing WhatsApp Community. To be part of this community of registered users, WhatsApp the word "JOIN" to +263 71 863 6459. We look forward to engaging and building a lasting relationship with you. Thank you.