The Family Aids Caring Trust Zimbabwe (FACT) recently reported that over 20 000 girls have dropped out of school since 2020.
FACT said areas such as Chipinge, Makoni, Mutasa, Buhera, Gutu and Mutare were the worst affected.
FACT also observed that the majority of these children are from poor and marginalised families indicating that the poverty cycle could be difficult to break as education could give them a fighting chance.
A United Nations report showed that illiteracy levels were high among children sitting at the lower end of the social strata, which translates into limited or no growth opportunities. Unicef said:
With widespread school closures and other disruptions to the education system brought about by the pandemic, the learning crisis has escalated to new heights. While the number of out of school children had already started to climb for the first time in 20 years, in 2020 by all accounts the increase began accelerating.
The findings indicate that wealth is the strongest predator, as children in the poorest quintile have 16% point lower likelihood of having foundational reading skills than children from the wealthiest quintile.
NewsDay Zimbabwe editorial says the trend will create social outcasts such as thieves, robbers and murderers.
Meanwhile, President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said there shall be free basic education in 2023, a pledge dismissed by teachers say is a “hopeless campaign gimmick.”
More: NewsDay Zimbabwe