21 July 2002

Land-grab deprives 250.000 pupils of education

More than 500 schools in formerly white owned farms have been shut down, throwing the future of over 250.000 children of farm workers into jeopardy, The Standard has learnt. As government continues to implement its chaotic land seizure exercise, more and more schools which were run by white commercial farmers are being closed as marauding Zanu PF supporters and war veterans take over the farms. According to a spokesperson of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), the future of the children who were getting education at the farm schools is gloomy as it is clear that neither the new owners nor the government has the capability and capacity to run the schools. Already, the embattled Mugabe regime is grappling with a food crisis, among a host of economic and social woes, leaving the government with no money to support the schools. Government schools have not been spared either, as they reel under lack of textbooks, teaching staff and other problems.

"More than 500 schools were closed abruptly as invaders besieged farms across the country. Thousands of children who attended farm schools have nowhere to go," said the spokesperson. The situation is made even worse by the fact that virtually all the farm workers' families will have no means of livelihood following the loss of their employers. About 200.000 of the deprived children are still at primary school level, which most commercial farmers provided. Many of the farm workers were immigrants from SADC countries such as Malawi and Mozambique, who left their countries decades ago in search of work. Efforts to get comment from the ministry of education failed because officials at the head office repeatedly said that the minister was busy. The permanent secretary, Thompson Tsodzo, was said to be on leave. (ZWNews / Zimbabwe Standard)

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