Satellite schools in registration dilemma

Phillipa Jaja

Satellite schools, majority of them established in resettlement areas following the land resettlement programme which relocated many families from their original homes, are facing challenges registering with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

This was revealed by Belmont Primary School Development Committee (SDC) treasurer Michael Giwa, in an interview on the side-lines of a Prospect Lithium Zimbabwe (PLZ) Corporate Social

Responsibility programme at Vhuta Primary school in Goromonzi last week. Giwa bemoaned the dilemma faced by satellite schools in the Goromonzi District in meeting registration requirements by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), noting this was forcing learners to walk for several kilometres to access the nearest registered school.

Belmont Primary School is a rural satellite school of ST Dominic Nora located in the resettled areas of Goromonzi and it was established in 2003.

He said Belmont primary school faced numerous challenges which needed coordinated stakeholder assistance.

“Our children are walking long distances to and from school because we cannot afford to finish the mandatory requirements set for registering a satellite school by the Ministry. Their plight is even worse during examination writing periods. They walk for a total of 42 km to and from examination centres for 11 days and this has greatly affected their pass rate which was disappointingly low.”

He made an appeal to various stakeholders to help meet the Ministry’s registration requirements.

“We are appealing for help from any interested party. Anyone that can facilitate our getting registered is welcome since we are resettled farmers without the means but we need education for our children,” he said. A school inspector in the Ministry who requested anonymity outlined the various infrastructural requirements needed to get registered.

“The Ministry requires a school to have adequate sanitary facilities. We are moving in line with the National Development Strategy (NDSI) standard perimeters that do away with the squat system in favour of flush toilets. Classrooms should be properly ventilated. Furthermore, they should cater for inclusivity in terms of disability whereby entrances should have off ramps for wheel chair users.

“Infrastructure should be climate proof so as to safeguard against weather related hazards such as hailstorms, floods or violent storms. Therefore the emphasis is having strong buildings. Furthermore sanitary facilities should be adequate. Teachers’ blocks should house at least two families each. They is also a need for a Chubb safe for storing examination papers.”

The Ministry official urged the Belmont community to play their part in the school registration and not depend on stakeholder help.

“The community should have a participatory approach towards the school’s development so that they have a sense of community ownership. They should engage in the physical aspects of their schools’ development. For example, the community should undertake to provide bricks for building school infrastructure and feed the labour force undertaking the projects.

“Then they can now approach the corporate world and other stakeholders for funding although they should bear in mind that most stakeholder funding is complementary. United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) offers such under the Complementary Funding Programme (GPE funded SIG modality) which complements the construction and rehabilitation of structures that had already reached a certain stage.”

Most rural satellite schools do not have adequate infrastructure which disadvantages learners.

Moreover, some are a considerable distance from learners’ settlements which easily tires them and affects their performance.

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