BY SILAS NKALA
OVER 160 schoolchildren at Mtshina Primary School in Tsholotsho, Matabeleland North province have no birth certificates and need assistance to acquire the national document, it has emerged.
Tsoro-o-otso San Development Trust director Davy Ndlovu told Southern Eye that his organisation, which stands for the rights of the San community, was now working on ensuring that the affected children acquire the documents.
The San community in Tsholotsho is mostly found in Sanqinyana, Gariya and Dlamini villages.
“At Mtshina Primary School, there are 168 children who have no birth certificates and need assistance to acquire them. We will conduct an assessment of schools around Tsholotsho so that we know how many more schools have such cases. After that we will hold policy engagement meetings with various stakeholders for the way forward,” Ndlovu said.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro last week said it was unfortunate that the ministry had no mandate to issue birth certificates to schoolchildren.
Ndoro, however, said government policy did not exclude any children from accessing education.
“The ministry unfortunately doesn’t issue birth certificates, but we do not deny any learner access to primary and secondary education because of lack of a birth certificate. Of course, we do encourage parents to obtain documentation as it helps the learners when they are no longer in school,” Ndoro said.
Tsoro-o-otso San Development Trust said in 1926, the San people were forcibly removed from their ancestral land to pave way for the establishment of the Wankie Game Reserve now Hwange National Park during the colonial era.
Most of the affected San communities then settled in Tsholotsho at Sanqinyana, Gariya and Dlamini villages.
The San population is estimated to be over 2 500 across the country.
For thousands of years San people have lived on hunting and gathering. Their staple food is made up of game meat and fruits.