1. Home
  2. Africa
  3. Southern Africa
  4. Zimbabwe

94 percent of schools fail to open

[ZIMBABWE] School feeding programme.
WFP plans to expand its school feeding programme (C-SAFE)

About 94 percent of Zimbabwe's rural schools - where most children are educated - failed to open this year, the UN Children's Fund said on 10 February 2009.

The education system, once viewed as the finest in sub-Saharan Africa, has become a casualty of the country's economic collapse and political infighting.

Tsitsi Singizi, UNICEF's spokesman in Zimbabwe, told IRIN the priority of the new unity government should be to salvage the education system. "The infrastructure for education is still there, but it needs to be brought back from the brink," she urged.

The leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai, is expected to be inaugurated as prime minister on 11 February and the a unity government, agreed by ZANU-PF and the MDC on 15 September 2008, is expected to begin its work of reconstructing Zimbabwe.

"Children in rural areas already live on the margins, many are orphaned, a huge number depend on food aid, they struggle on numerous fronts," UNICEF's Representative in Zimbabwe, Roeland Monasch, said in a statement. "Now these children are being denied the only basic right that can better their prospects. It is unacceptable."

''Children in rural areas already live on the margins, many are orphaned, a huge number depend on food aid, they struggle on numerous fronts''

Widespread disruption of schools began in the aftermath of the March 2008 elections and continued beyond a presidential run-off poll in June, which was not recognized internationally because of the state-sponsored political violence.

After the elections, many teachers failed to return to their posts as a consequence of salaries made worthless by hyperinflation and a fear of continued political violence.

In 2008, school attendance rates dropped from 80 percent to 20 percent, UNICEF said, and the few schools that opened in 2009 are charging fees in foreign currency, making them unaffordable to most citizens.


This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

Share this article
Join the discussion

It was The New Humanitarian’s investigation with the Thomson Reuters Foundation that uncovered sexual abuse by aid workers during the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and led the World Health Organization to launch an independent review and reform its practices.

This demonstrates the important impact that our journalism can have. 

But this won’t be the last case of aid worker sex abuse. This also won’t be the last time the aid sector has to ask itself difficult questions about why justice for victims of sexual abuse and exploitation has been sorely lacking. 

We’re already working on our next investigation, but reporting like this takes months, sometimes years, and can’t be done alone.

The support of our readers and donors helps keep our journalism free and accessible for all. Donations mean we can keep holding power in the aid sector accountable, and shine a light on similar abuses. 

Become a member today and support independent journalism

Become a member of The New Humanitarian

Support our journalism and become more involved in our community. Help us deliver informative, accessible, independent journalism that you can trust and provides accountability to the millions of people affected by crises worldwide.