The Government has dismissed a report by the United States of America Embassy in Zimbabwe claiming that an estimated 840 000 schoolchildren have dropped out of school since 2020 following the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to the US embassy report on the 2021 state of human rights in Zimbabwe, released on Wednesday this week, hundreds of thousands of children of school-going age are involved in tobacco farming, artisanal mining, street vending and prostitution.
However, Public Service and Social Welfare Minister Paul Mavima on Thursday told NewsDay that the Government was conducting its own assessment and will not rely on external reports. He said:
We do not rely on external reports. We have our own report that will be released in May. After all, the US has never reported about us in a positive way, so why should we rely on their reports?
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro also rejected the report saying it is part of the United States’ “regime change agenda”. Said Ndoro:
The report should never be considered. The figure is out of this world. The main aim of such ungrounded and highly-inflated statistics is to tarnish the image of the government and to push the regime change agenda. There are no such statistics on school dropouts in the country.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said children are quitting school because they don’t see the value of going to school. PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said:
Our findings show that one of the major reasons children are dropping out of school is a lack of appreciation of the importance of education.
It is not inspiring at all when a school-going child sees an engineer selling tomatoes in the streets.
They know they will not get jobs after graduating and so they will not value going to school.
According to PTUZ, their survey covering only five provinces has shown that 45 000 pupils had dropped out of school since 2020.