MAJORITY of children from Killarney Squatter Camp have not returned to school as their parents have been grounded by the Covid-19-induced lockdown.
The government finally reopened schools in a phased manner starting with examination classes on March 15 while the rest of the learners returned to face-to-face lessons a week later.
However, most children in the squatter camp located adjacent to the affluent suburb of Killarney have remained at home and are not attending any lessons.
Parents and guardians from this underprivileged illegal settlement, who rely on menial jobs and vending, lost most of their sources of income during the lockdown and can no longer afford to send their children to school.
“I no longer have the money and I cannot send them (children) to school. They will stay here with me until I find something but for now it’s really hard,” said one parent, Nomusa Ncube (not her real name).
Ncube said her five children are now into informal trading so that they can supplement their mother’s income.
“None of us is formally employed and this lockdown grounded us. My children are now going to be ordering vegetables for resale so that we earn a living,” Ncube added.
Ncube’s daughter Bubelo, 14, said it was disappointing to stay home whilst her peers were going to school.
“I was supposed to be doing my Form 3 at Mzilikazi High School but as you can see, we don’t have the money right now. It is painful to see your age mates going to school but what can I do. I have to help my mother with selling vegetables so that me and my younger siblings can have something to eat,” she said.
In the past, the squatter camp’s residents had set up a kindergarten under a tree in the community.
One of the residents had volunteered to supervise the children, who should be enrolled for Early childhood Development (ECD). However, since the start of the lockdown last year in March, the makeshift school has not been functioning and the residents are not sure when the initiative will resume.
“With this lockdown it’s hard to conduct lessons. Education is really a nightmare this side,” said another parent, Mayibongwe Ndumo.
Ndumo appealed to the government and civic organisations to rescue the squatter camp residents.
Over 100 people resettled at Killarney Squatter Camp following Operation Murambatsvina which was conducted in 2007 when the late former president Robert Mugabe’s administration destroyed all illegal structures.
Although the government once tried to disperse the camp, the residents resisted the move and have remained on the site.