Zimbabwe

More than lip service needed to provide education

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Education, Sports and Culture Minister, David Coltart, who raises concern at the lack of access to education by children that were victims of the widely-condemned Murambatsvina, says the new strategic plan he will soon present to Cabinet will aim to tackle the problem.

Human rights groups have recently highlighted the plight of such children saying these had failed to access education after government forecefull removed them from where they stayed but failed to build schools where they ‘resettled’ them.

Among such organizations that have raised concern at the challenges facing the minors is Amnesty international.

Coltart told The Zimbabwean he had received a general letter from the human rights organization.

“I am deeply concerned about the plight of these children and Education Transition Fund Phase 2 is very much focused on these issues. Sadly, because of the extreme shortage, indeed virtual non existence, of government funding, there is very little I can do in the short term to address these legitimate concerns,” he said.

“I will shortly be presenting our 5 year strategic plan to Cabinet which is designed to address these concerns and others. But that will need more than lip service to become effective.”

In 2005, an estimated 700 000 people lost their homes, their livelihoods or both as a result of the Zimbabwean government’s campaign of mass forced evictions and demolitions of homes and informal business structures.

The evictions and demolitions were carried out without adequate notice, court orders, or appropriate relocation measures, in violation of Zimbabwe’s obligations under international human rights law. During the evictions police and soldiers used excessive force while property was destroyed and people were beaten.

Most victims still live under deplorable conditions despite the government’s so-called Operation Garikai, which government claimed would provide housing to victims.

A 2010 study by the Solidarity Peace found that 28 per cent of Zimbabwe’s school going children suffered severe disruption (loss of more than a year of schooling). Half of these children (14 per cent) lost up to three years of education or dropped out of school permanently.