By Mthulisi Mathuthu
SW Radio Africa
28 July 2014
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has estimated that more than 100 school girls at the Chingwizi Camp between the ages of 10 and 12 may have fallen pregnant recently.
The teachers union said of the 2,500 children who were enrolled at the local schools at least 400 have also since dropped out to fend for their families.
In a report titled ‘The Dilemma of Learning at Chingwizi’ the teachers union blamed the living conditions at the transit camp for the situation.
In some cases a whole family shares a tent leading to a situation where pupils must sometimes go out to allow their parents to enjoy their conjugal rights. This has led to many roaming around at night.
The union also said there were no proper sanitary facilities and no clean drinking water at the camp. The report castigated the ‘pathetic nature of the schools’ saying the environment was not enticing to students while many youngsters are always hungry at school forcing them to sell their bodies for food.
The president of the teachers union, Takavafira Zhou, told SW Radio Africa that there were ‘so many more challenges’ facing the teachers, pupils and the parents. He said the extent of both the infrastructural inadequacy and moral decadence at the camp was ‘shocking.’
He said the situation was made worse by a ‘lack of harmony’ between the police and the community with villagers accusing some of the officers of abusing their powers. Zhou said they will be approaching the ministry of education with their findings and residents’ concerns to lobby for improvements.
The villagers who escaped flooding at the Tokwe Mukosi basin have vowed not to leave the camp until the cash strapped government compensates them. However the PTUZ said this impasse has left ‘the girl child, the poorest of the poor and the most miserable of all victims’ at the camp.
Reports on human rights abuses at the Chingwizi Camp are not new. Last week a film produced by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association and the Coalition against Corruption exposed extreme violations. Titled ‘Voices from the Tents’ the film chronicled the same living conditions the teachers union is blaming for the child pregnancies and school drop outs.