By Bernard Chiketo
Government has closed more than 40 Tropical Cyclone Idai-ravaged schools across Chimanimani over safety concerns.
Manicaland Provincial Education director Edward Shumba said the request for the early closure of schools was due to a huge infrastructural damage to the 43 primary and secondary schools which was now posing a danger to pupils and teachers.
“We requested for the closure of the schools because of the infrastructural damage to most schools in the area and even those that had no collapsed buildings would need experts to check them to ensure their safety,” Shumba said.
Some of the schools were never opened after several buildings were destroyed in the storm that killed over 300 people and left thousands homeless.
St Charles Lwanga was the first to close after its dining hall and a dormitory were crushed by a landslide that killed two students and a security guard. Food supplies were also buried in the mudslide.
Most of the schools were struggling with the psychological trauma of multiple deaths of pupils and teachers with Dzingire Primary School missing 39 pupils and three staffers including the headmaster, hence making learning difficult.
Boarding schools were also now relying on helicopter-delivered food aid as they could no longer replenish their stocks as they were cut off after bridges were swept away and landslides buried roads in the mountainous region.
Rusitu High School headmaster Tenson Matende earlier this week sent a video message pleading for assistance after his school had completely run out of food. It has about 380 boarders.
Shumba said while some boarding schools were now accessible some would still need to care for the children until there was a way to extract them.
Some of the closed schools are in Biriiri, Tarka, Chisengu, Martin, Muchadziya, Vhimba, Ndima, Dzingire, Mutsvangwa, Museye, Roscommon, Chikukwa, Ndakopa, Westward Hall, Hlabiso, Kushinga, Nyabanga, Nyahode, Mukombiwani, Thabanchu, Ndieme, Tiya, Mannase, Marirwe, Kwirire, Merrywaters and Cambridge among others.
Shumba said some schools are still completely inaccessible and their recommendations were based on information received from neighbouring schools.
“We are hoping to tour the schools to ascertain the number of pupils and teachers we lost as well as inspect their infrastructure once the roads become passable hopefully in two weeks,” Shumba said. DailyNews