Parents of school dropouts could face a two-year term in Zimbabwe. Most governments worldwide have made education compulsory having to be both a human right and a sustainable development goal. The government of Zimbabwe has made education obligatory up to the age of 16 to lower the level of school dropouts in Zimbabwe. The government enforced culture after realizing 20% of children do not attend school. This statistic, however, was contributed by several factors but the leading ones being poverty and early pregnancy.
The new law, therefore, made it an offense to send home children for non-payment of fees. Young girls who became pregnant were to be left and continue learning until the day she delivers. A month or two after delivery, she was to come back and continue with school. According to the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVac), 60% of children were sent home after failing to pay fees.
Early School Systems In Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe, the first President of Zimbabwe, also a former teacher who passed on last year, was reputable for his educational policies. These policies which he implemented in 1980 after independence. The plans he adopted gave the Zimbabweans ease and greater access to education by opening up many school states all over the country. During this time, education was free, and children from any social class could access education. This made Zimbabwe emerge as the top leading country in Africa with the highest level of literacy.
Things, however, started crumbling when free education ended in 1990. In the next decades, education started becoming costly decade after decade. The education system crumbled and day in day out, which led to high levels of school dropouts.
The Changing Factors In School Systems.
When the education laws were amended, children were required to get to schools for 12years, which was five years more than the previous system. Parents could also face jail time of 2years or a $260 fine if their children fail to go to school or truancy.
“This is a bold attempt to try force parents to prioritize education, especially with the current economic crisis in the country,” says one of the citizens.
However, most of the citizens believe this a malicious attempt after failing to deliver its promise of free education and increased state schools. The existing state schools have inadequate resources to cater for all the students.
Reasons Behind The High Levels Of School Dropouts.
When Mugabe handed over the presidential seat to his former deputy Emmerson Mnangagwa, there was hope the economy would be revived. However, things got from bad to worse during his decade. Hyperinflation kicked in that shattered the economy of the country. The country that was once rich in resources now undergoes a shortage of food, medicine, fuel, among other major resources. Currently, the country is experiencing a major drought. With this crisis and failure to pay fees, children have been dropping out of school and getting employment. These children work for 3$-5$ a month since they are unregistered therefore provide cheap labor.
One of the teachers said children bring fees if and when they are able too. The school is also more flexible about uniforms to accommodate more children. Some parents have sent their children home after their businesses shut down. While other parents have sent their children back to the village, fearing they may be arrested and the shame they would face.
The president has blamed the economic crisis on sanctions saying they cripple the economy. He is on the journey to cut all sanctions in the country. Zimbabwe, as a country, is still struggling to get its economy back to stability by amending its laws and implementing the different policies.