Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
PARENTS in Dubani Village, Gwanda District, Matabeleland South Province, are sitting on a powder keg as they have to send their children to live in rented accommodation in Colleen Bawn, over 10kms out, in order for them to have access to a school.
Instead of having their children walk more than 10kms a day to get an education, parents opt to rent accommodation for them in Colleen Bawn’s Khayelitsha township.
Rentals range between R600 and R1 000, depending on the size of the room.
From as young as four years old and of ECD going age, children are moving in with strangers so that they do not lag behind the school curriculum.
Sadly, this has exposed some children to sexual abuse as those entrusted to be their guardians sometimes end up violating them.
It would seem parents are caught between two fires; sending their children off to live with strangers so that they can get an education or keeping them at home and having them miss out on school.
“What else can we do?
This is a resettlement area and there are no schools to talk about.
We find that it is better to rent accommodation for the children in Colleen Bawn than have them walk long distances to school every day,” said Ms Sikhululekile Ndlovu whose daughter should start Grade 6 at Colleen Bawn Primary School this year.
She said it was emotionally and financially draining to have her child live far from home.
“The landlord is the only adult person who will be around, otherwise my child will be in her own room.
We make arrangements with the landlord for her meals and then she has to do her own laundry and sort out her school work on her own.
It is an expensive arrangement because in addition to the rentals, we have to pay school fees, buy uniforms, food and still cater for everyone else at home,” said Ms Ndlovu.
She said the situation is not ideal but she is left with no option.
“This is a gold mining area and it is more dangerous to have the children move around alone especially after school as illegal gold miners might prey on them along the way,” she said.
Dubani villagers are not the only ones that have to contend with this situation.
Zendele, Capital Block and Thornwood West Villages among other areas in Ward 22 have this challenge in common.
The resettlement areas do not have schooling facilities or health centres which forces some parents to send their children as far as Colleen Bawn to get an education.
Another parent, Ms Primrose Gatsheni said her two children have been staying at the same house in Khayelitsha for a few years now.
“I made an arrangement with the landlord to cook and do my children’s laundry in order to lighten the burden for them.
The only concern is the safety of my daughter.
We’re always hearing of children who are raped and its very scary for us.
We however, don’t have a choice because there are no schools here,” said Ms Gatsheni.
She said community members had been continually trying to engage the local leadership on the construction of schools in the area to no avail.
“We’ve since given up,” she said.
“We just have to work with what’s there and hopefully those that come after this generation will find this village better developed.
Every day I pray that God watches over my children in my absence.
I’m always holding my breath and are relieved whenever I get the chance to see or speak to them,” she continued.
Turning to the jam parents in Dubani Village face, Ward 22 Councillor Marry Mpofu said it was saddening to note that there has been little development in the ward.
“We found the resettlement areas with no schools.
We’ve since applied to the Government to build schools in the ward but the processes are cumbersome and it has been taking a long while.
The area has no Early Childhood Development facility, primary or high school.
It also doesn’t have a health facility.
It’s a relatively new area and it would seem resettlement areas are not getting as much attention as we would like them to,” said Clr Mpofu.
She said parents had resorted to finding their children rented accommodation in areas such as Colleen Bawn so that they could go to school.
“The children are struggling.
They stay at people’s houses, young children who are doing ECD.
That’s why we get a lot of cases of children being raped and a lot of the times, the cases go unreported,” said Clr Mpofu.
She appealed to the Government to step up efforts to develop the area so as to improve the quality of life for villagers. — @yolisswa
Article Source: The Chronicle