Schoolchildren struggling with transport: MP


SCHOOLCHILDREN are struggling to get transport to school despite government promising to provide dedicated buses for teachers and pupils, Parliament heard on Thursday.
When the government announced the decision to re-open schools for Cambridge and Zimbabwe School Examinations Council examination classes, concerns wereraised by various stakeholders overhow learners and teachers, especially in urban centres, would betransported to schools following theban on private commuter omnibuses in March after the country imposed a national lockdown to dealwith the spread of Covid-19.

However, the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) and the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said they had reached an agreement to ensure that pupils and teachers would be safely transported when schools

Last week, Zanu PF proportional representation MP for Harare Province Miriam Chikukwa, called on Parliament to intervene as learners were still finding it difficult to access the buses as they are not exclusive to them.

“I want to ask how children are going to travel to school. Right now, looking at Harare where I come from, children wake up as early as 3am and 4am to prepare to go to school.

“They have to catch buses which ferry people who go to work. Mostly it depends on the organisers at the bus terminus to give schoolchildren preference to board the buses first or not,” Chikukwa said.

The former Harare provincial minister bemoaned the fact that schoolchildren “sometimes end up jostling with workers to get onto the bus”.

“When they finish school at 1pm, they again wait for the buses that ferry people from work. What can we do as the august House since this matter was discussed and promises were made that dedicated buses would be made available for schoolchildren,” she said.

In response, National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda advised Chikukwa to raise the issue next week when ministers come to Parliament.

“That is a very important observation and I am hoping that you will follow it up next week at question time so that you can fully debate your observation on the ground,” Mudenda said.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema was not taking calls when the Daily News on Sunday sought his comment. However, last month deputy Primary and Secondary Education minister Edgar Moyo assured the nation that by the time lessons resume, transport would be available for learners.

“Our aim is that we create a smooth way to transport learners, teachers and ancillary staff from home to school and back. We do not want a situation where this results in the spiking of Covid-19 cases by exposing them hence we
are working at an inter-ministerial level to ensure that the necessary logistical arrangements are in place,
especially regarding the issue of transport.

“We had the same special arrangement when we had the June exams, so we will continue from that, only this time it will be more of a special arrangement because we want these examinations to be held without any hiccups,” Moyo said

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