Diamond mining pulls kids out of school

Teachers in mining communities such as Marange District, Zimbabwe, have expressed concern that some children do not value education, preferring to engage in illegal diamond mining for fast cash.

This concern was raised by teachers at Gandauta Secondary School under Chief Marange in Ward 29 of Mutare West, Manicaland.

Gandauta Secondary is one of the schools located within the Chiadzwa diamond mining zones where pupils and locals often partake in the ‘diamond rush.’

Of late, Gandauta Secondary has been receiving assistance from Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamonds Company (ZCDC) sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes. 

ZCDC recently constructed, electrified and furnished state-of-the-art computer and science laboratories at Gandauta Secondary, which the School Headmaster, Pride Mukomberenwa, described as evidence the mining company is having on the local community.

The school has an enrolment of about 250 pupils.

However, some of the school buildings in Chiadzwa communities are old and dilapidated, which discourages students from staying in school when they may make quick money from illicit mining.

In an interview with CITE during a recent visit to Gandauta to see the work done by ZCDC at the school, teachers said some children looked down upon education and chose to drop out of the school to go into illegal mining activities.  

“Some learners don’t regard education that much, another issue is perhaps their parents also don’t know how to instill that sense in them. As teachers, we try by all means to make pupils see the importance of education but they mock us for not having money,” said one teacher at Gandauta whose identity remains protected for professional reasons..

“The children say they can make more within a day from illegal mining than what we earn monthly. They disregard us and see teachers as poor or see poverty. The children can go to work or bet and come to school carrying US$5 000 to US$10 000.”

The teacher said last year, a Form Two learner bought a Honda Fit vehicle and motorbikes after making a score.

“The boy then left school, saying he had petty cash, which was better than teaching that has no money. The children will also say teachers don’t even have a car when we claim to be educated. So they don’t value education except for a few pupils,” she said.

In terms of gender parity, the teacher stated there were a high number of girls who came to Form 1 but owing to various causes, the number declined and some ended up in child marriages.

“There are quite a number of boys but some leave school to go to illegal mining. However the school’s pass rate right now has been fair.”

According to the teacher, parents in mining towns must also be taught the need of prioritising education for their children.

“The problem is also found among some parents who don’t know or understand what education is or they too don’t value education,” she said, adding there was need for concerted efforts to promote education. 

“It will be good for children to see these role models who come from the area, going to work in companies and formally after going through school.”

The teacher claimed that as teachers, they could not go into artisanal mining for additional money because some of it was illegal and did not want to be in trouble with the authorities.

“We know it’s illegal so where would you go? We just stay here after working. We can sell one or two items just to have extra money to take home. We have also come together here at Gandauta to do chicken projects that we sell to tuck shops and those who cook sadza, “ she said.

The teacher added teacher houses were “favourable” after ZCDC helped in renovating the building by painting and electrifying them.

Meanwhile, ZCDC also constructed two modern blocks at Chiyadzwa Primary School.  

Chiyadzwa Primary School Headmistress, Shamiso Chinyenze, expressed gratitude to  ZCDC for its CSR programme that was benefitting the school.

“The first block was completed last term, and we are waiting for the handover of the second block. The blocks will benefit 348 students,” she said and added that the school now had electricity.

Chiyadzwa Primary School Headmistress Shamiso Chinyenze.

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