Pupils at Turf Primary School in Ward 15 has over the past 17 years ran without even a single classroom block and has recorded a zero percent pass rate in grade seven examinations ever since.
During lessons, many pupils sit on the ground under makeshift structures built of wooden poles and dagga with thatched roof.
Turf Primary School Teacher-in-Charge (TIC) Bernard Mahutse said the school was facing some of the worst conditions a school could ever face in the country.
“Grade seven classes use these facilities during their final examinations. We have a total enrolment of 368 pupils and we have few pieces of furniture such that some of our pupils learn seated on the ground,” said Mahutse.
Teachers do not stay longer at the school as there are no houses for them, and none of them is motivated to stay at the school for a long time.
“There are five teachers here and that shows you how understaffed we are. Different grades are combined into one single class to make it easier for teachers to cope. Teachers do not stay for long and pupils are taught by new faces all the time,” said Mahutse.
The massive staff turnover has seen the pass rate at the school dropping to zero because the few teachers carry a heavy work load, with a teacher-pupil ratio of 1:120 when some teachers don’t turn up.
Local parents also lamented the conditions at the school which they described as good as a play centre for their children to pass their time.
“Nothing is learnt at Turf as our children just go there to grow up and socialise with their age-mates. During the rainy season, many parents would rather have their children herding cattle and goats than to going to school where they benefit nothing except to come back home with dirt uniforms,” said female parent.
Ward 15 Cllr Edson Chauke said the school faced a serious predicament as the Ministry of Lands was yet to officially authorise the school’s location.
“Conditions there are really bad and that is tragic to the future of our children there. The Ministry of Land is backtracking on pegging the school to make its siting permanent.
“We briefed our MP (Priscilla Moyo) about the state of affairs at the school and she promised to assist in that regard. We will keep pushing to ensure that a way out is found and conditions there are improved,” said Chauke.
Mwenezi Rural District Council (RDC), which is the responsible authority, through the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Albert Chivanga acknowledged the state of affairs at the school.
There is no phone and radio signal at the school and neither is there a safe source of drinking water. The nearest health centre is 80 km away.