According to the government’s regulatory body together with the Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee, 20% of children have dropped out of school and 60% of primary school scholars are expelled for non-payment of fees.
Therefore, the Zimbabwean government has made education compulsory up to the age of 16, following the rising school dropout figures blamed on the poor state of the economy, pregnancies, early marriages and barriers to learning, such as long distances to school.
The spiralling food prices and a steep increase in school fees has also led many parents to withdraw their children from schools. According to Shingai Nyoka, parents have been spending less on education as they struggle to buy food. Fees at government-run schools must be paid upfront and range from between $30 (£23) and $700 a year, depending on where they are based.
Edmund Hove, Father of a 16-year old girl explained the pain at being forced to pull out his only daughter from school, in the middle of her term. “We soon realized that after paying the fee, we will not be able to feed ourselves. We had to drop her out. We had no choice,” added, Melody Hove, Edmund’s wife.
The new law also makes it is an offence to expel children for non-payment of school fees or for becoming pregnant. Zimbabwean parents could be jailed for up to two years or be fined R4,170 if their children drop out of school.