By Tendai Bhebe
More than 50 pupils and three teachers have been confirmed dead while 70 school going children are still not accounted for and are feared dead in the Cyclone Idai hit areas with an estimated $10 million worth of school infrastructure having been lost.
The cyclone affected Manicaland Province’s Chipinge and Chimanimani districts as well as some parts of Masvingo Province.
In an interview, Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Edgar Moyo said 52 school going children have been confirmed dead while 70 others were still missing with growing fears that they have died also.
“The number of missing pupils is 70 but we presume them as dead until legally confirmed otherwise. Then 52 were confirmed dead, hence altogether they are 122 pupils. As for the teachers we have three, a headmaster and two teachers who died,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
He said a total of 87 schools were destroyed by the cyclone’s torrential rains.
“We have sent in experts on the ground to come up with proper value of what we lost in terms of school infrastructure. The amount could be $10 million.
“A total of 87 schools were affected, some schools need complete reconstruction while others need to be repaired here and there depending on the damage that was suffered.
“But in our movement towards restoration of infrastructure we want to have short, medium and long term plans,” he said.
Moyo said the Government was focusing on fixing the damaged schools as early as possible but that could be affected by settlement patterns that would emerge.
“Our key focus now is just to get schools to function even with the minimum that we can put together before we fully reconstruct.
“And again our reconstruction is going to be largely informed by settlement patterns that are going to emerge after this disaster. I am sure other departments of Government are looking at whether or not people have to be relocated. But while that is going on, we want learning to go on. If the schools are going to relocate the costs will be much higher and that would mean that we will be constructing new schools,” he said.
Recently the Government availed $4 million for the reconstruction of schools in the tropical Cyclone Idai affected areas.
Added Deputy Minister Moyo: “We also have St Charles Lwanga which was one of the schools that was affected and they have also requested the ministry to relocate the school.
“However, that is still in the process, we can’t say they are already relocating but they have expressed the desire to relocate officially.
“And that alone is an indication that some schools would want to relocate or even some people in different villages would also want to relocate to new places.”
Deputy Minister Moyo said his ministry has also deployed psychologists to affected areas to assist with psychological support.
“We have realised that children were traumatised, some of them lost both parents, some one parent and some lost everything.
“We want to fix the damages as fast as possible. Psychologists are already on the ground as we speak, right now we have educational psychologists from Masvingo, Mashonaland East and Manicaland, they are on the ground,” he said. Sunday News