BY PRIVELEDGE GUMBODETE
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday ordered the Primary and Secondary Education ministry to take urgent measures to arrest a growing trend of school dropouts following revelations that 840 000 learners quit school in the past two years.
A United States embassy report on the 2021 state of human rights in Zimbabwe painted a gloomy picture of the education sector, saying learners were quitting school in droves.
Some of the dropouts were now engaged as child labourers in the artisanal mining sector and on farms while others were informal traders, according to the report.
Addressing learners at the Bulawayo State House attending a pre-Independence Day annual party, Mnangagwa said the growing number of school dropouts was disturbing.
“To reduce cases of school dropouts, I exhort the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to take concrete measures to reverse the trend. Meanwhile, the school environment should remain a safe place for our learners. In this regard, school authorities are reminded to stop all forms of abuse, discrimination and the sending away of learners due to unpaid fees and levies,” Mnangagwa said.
The Independence Day celebrations will be held at Barbourfields stadium under the theme: Zim@42 — Leaving no one and no place behind.
Mnangagwa also said his government would increase support to learners from underprivileged families under the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) programme, including providing stationery and uniforms.
“This year alone, we are supporting learners through BEAM with the addition of school uniforms and stationery. I call upon BEAM selecting committees to be more transparent, accountable and responsible so that all deserving cases are properly considered.”
In the past, learners under BEAM have been turned away from school after the government failed to pay tuition fees on time.