High school shortage crisis hits Chipinge
Manicaland’s southernmost district is in distress over the grim possibility of thousands of children failing to find enrolment into high school due to an acute shortage of secondary schools in Chipinge.
The Eastern boarder community with a population of over 26,000 people, currently has two high schools which have to accommodate inflow from the town’s hugely populated five primary schools.
The situation has left prospective Form One students in a quagmire.
In a desperate letter to the Education ministry and the Chipinge Town Council, residents have suggested the construction of temporary structures at Chipinge Country Club or the Gaza Community Hall to plug the gap and serve as secondary schools as the town awaits the construction of the long-promised Saint Kelvin Secondary School.
In response, Chipinge Acting District Schools Inspector (DSI) Abson Mapfumo said its is also concerned as the Ministry “because our mandate is to ensure access and quality assurance.”
“We are also mandated as government to ensure that all learners access education as provided for in section 75 our Constitution.”
“We are addressing the challenge with some assurance that come the opening day, the learners who are currently having problems of infrastructural accommodation will be accommodated,” said Mapfumo.
Students will be accommodated at council buildings and teachers will be there to ensure that the students enjoy their right to education, added Mapfumo.
In an interview with Zim Morning Post, Chipinge Town Council acting Secretary James Mutemera (Treasurer) said council was aware of the situation. However, they do not see the situation as a crisis.
“It’s not yet a crisis, let all enrollments by other schools and surrounding schools be complete and will see the effect,” he said.
“We are following the facts and proved facts of the said uproar. Ideas are welcome but facts are required as we will be approaching relevant Ministries. Our short and long term plan is to build the new school in our approved plan,” added Mutemera.
Observers say educational infrastructure in Chipinge Town is lagging behind and there is need for active actions towards the secondary school sector.
In December one of the two high schools in Chipinge, Gaza High School, opened up invitations of Fomr One places. Over 650 pupils attended but only 160 were allocated space for Form One.
“We invited children for selection yesterday at Gaza High School. We were overwhelmed, 650 attended for the selection. We only can afford 160. It means that many others are without a place for Form One,” said a teacher at the school who requested anonymity as they do not have authority to speak to the media.
“This crisis is way beyond ordinary as all schools in Chipinge will not be able to allocate every student. Chipinge Secondary School can only take 120 students. Add to our intake, still majority remain destitute. Let’s build now. The need is there. The situation is dire,” the teacher said.
At Chipinge High school, about 560 students responded to the school’s invitation for Form One place. One hundred and twenty were granted a place.
Chipinge’s failure to cater the district’s education needs couples with the low income of residents, could see children walking long distances to neighboring towns.
“My submission is that these 12, 13, 14-year-olds will walk to peri-urban schools some 10 kilometers or more away. That will come to a journey of 20 km to and from. We are being very cruel and irresponsible to our next generation of leaders,” said a Chipinge resident.