Tsholotsho’s San community takes up education
Members of the marginalised San community in Tsholotsho are slowly coming out of their shell and embracing modern lifestyles, as they are now enrolling their children in schools.
According to latest statistics collected by Tsoro-o-tso San Development Trust (SDT) on San school going children, a total 96 San children have been attending class in Tsholotsho since 2013.
“90 percent of these children were between Grades 0 and 3, while about 10 percent proceeded to grade 5,” Tsoro-o-tso SDT director Davy Ndlovu noted in a report.
“There was no child in Grade 7 as all dropped out between Grades 3 and 5.”
Ndlovu further noted that the San have previously failed to take their children to school due to poverty and deep seated traditional beliefs.
“The reasons were numerous, including failure to pay by parents, lack of food at home (which meant that the children (girls) joined their parents in the hunt for food), and lack of proper clothing (some went semi-naked). It is inhuman for a girl to go to school semi-naked and these forces the girls to drop out of school from as early as Grade 2 or 3,” he said.
Before the late Vice President John Nkomo passed on, he built a secondary school that was named after him, in a bid to promote the acceptance of education in the previously hunting and gathering dominated culture.
The school was officially opened by President Robert Mugabe in 2012.
While at one point the school appeared to be neglected, it has however, provided an opportunity for the San children to progress beyond primary level.
“Things are slowly but surely changing for the better. For the past four years, there has been an increase in the enrolment of San children in primary school.
“Unlike in previous years where many San children dropped out of school at Grade 3, this time, the San children are progressing well and there is a significant improvement. More than 15 pupils finished their Grade 7 (Primary education) and progressed to secondary level in 2016,” Ndlovu said.
“At secondary level, five San school children wrote their Ordinary Level examinations, a first among the San in Zimbabwe. This again has motivated many San school children to work hard and aim at attending secondary education. An enrolment of at least 22 children was attained in 2017.”
Ndlovu however, cited marginalization and poor economic environment as the factors derailing the vision to have the San community appreciate education.
“The schools are far and the San have large families and cannot afford to support their children with their educational needs and prefer to send boys to school than girls. The current education systems do not respect indigenous people’s diverse cultures.
“An unspecified percentage of the active San population from wards 1, 2, 7, 8 and 10 in Tsholotsho and Plumtree districts, live and works in neighboring countries like Botswana and South Africa and when they come back, they encourage their younger siblings to leave school and go seek work in neighboring countries,” he said.