by MARCUS MUSHONGA
HARARE, (CAJ News) – THOUSANDS of children face a dire future as schools open for the new term next week, over a month since Cyclone Idai struck Zimbabwe.
The harsh weather, besides killing over 200 people, destroyed some 140 schools and affected 90 000 students.
Catastrophic floods and destruction affected some 270 000 people, including 129 600 children.
The new school term starts on Tuesday.
Humanitarian organisations said the displacement of hundreds of people underscored the widespread disruption of learning, with some teachers and children being temporarily housed in collective centres or camp like settings.
Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the non-governmental organisation, said evidence showed that children who are out of school for prolonged periods of time after a disaster were increasingly less likely to ever return to the classroom.
For girls, there is an increased risk of this prolonged absence leading to early marriage.
“In the chaos caused by a natural disaster of this magnitude, children are always at greater risk of exploitation, including sexual abuse and trafficking,” Greg Benchwick, ECW spokesperson, stated.
The organisation has intervened by approving a US$1 million grant to restore education services for 55 000 children in Zimbabwe. More than 27 000 girls will benefit.
“Older girls are also more likely to be held back from school to help with chores in an emergency situation,” Benchwick explained.
– CAJ News