Memory (12) from Kambudzi Ward 12 in Nyanga rural, east of Zimbabwe passed her Grade 7 Examinations exceptionally in 2016. She came out with 9 units. Unfortunately, Memory’s future is uncertain. Her dream of becoming a teacher seems to have been shattered as she is not going to school. She is supposed to be in Form 1.
According to the Zimbabwe standards as at 2016, 9 units is an excellent pass of “A minus grade”, with 4 units being a Straight “A” standard and the best. Thirty six (36) units are considered the least and an outright failure. As at 2016, Grade 7s in Zimbabwe wrote four subjects in the final examinations. Memory is considered a genius as she achieved excellent grades against a rural background where education standards have dwindled due to harsh economic conditions in Zimbabwe.
Memory is an orphan whose parents are both late. “I stay with my grandmother. She said she cannot afford to pay for my secondary education,” said Memory whose grandmother is a subsistence farmer.
Memory was born alone in her family. However she is not alone in her struggle. Nineteen other girls from her community are caught up in the same predicament. Norleen (11) from Kambudzi stopped school at Grade 5 in 2016. She is the third child in a family of five children. The first child is doing Form 3, a boy and the second child is a girl doing Form 2. The fourth child, a girl is doing Grade 1. “My class position was 12 in the last term that I went to school in 2016. My favourite subject is Maths,” said Noreen who stays with both her father and mother who are subsistence farmers.
Passionate (16) from Kambudzi stopped school at Grade 7 in 2015. Passionate is a semi- child head as she stays with her six year old brother who she looks after and is not yet going to school. Her mother is a farm worker somewhere in Nyanga where she stays alone while her husband is late. Passionate’s two older sisters got married at 18. “I attained 24 units in my Grade 7 Examinations. I would like to be a teacher, if I am given an opportunity to go to school,” said Passionate.
Jessica (12) stopped going to school at Grade 6 in 2016. She stays with her father and a step mother. Born in a family of eight children, six of whom from her mother and the other two from her step mother, Jessica is the 6th child. No-one from her family went up to Form 4. One of her sisters stopped school at Form 3 and married as a teenager. Three other sisters married after completing Grade 7. Two of her brothers stopped school at Grade 7 and are casual workers in the community.
Elizabeth (16) from Kambudzi did up to Grade 7 in 2016 and is not going to school. She stays with both her parents who are subsistence farmers. She is the second child in a family of four. Her older sister married at 16. Her younger siblings are still in primary school. Elizabeth did not collect her Grade 7 results because she owes her school.
Rachael (13) stopped going to school at Grade 7 in 2016. She did not collect her Grade 7 results. She stays with her father and stepmother. Her father and mother are divorced. “I want to be a nurse if given a chance to go to school. I would also want to sing,” said Rachael who sang a song by Jah Prayzah, a popular musician in Zimbabwe, when she was asked to showcase her talent.
Patricia (16) stopped school at Grade 7 in 2016. She attained 28 units. Her father is late and her mother remarried as a second wife to a man who is now her stepfather. Patricia wants to be a police woman if given an opportunity to continue with school.
Tsitsi (16) stopped school when she was doing Form 1. Both her parents are late. She stays with her grandmother.
Tecla (15) dropped out of school at Grade 7 in 2016. She did not collect her Grade 7 results. Tecla is the 7th child in a family of 10 children.
The 20 girls from Kambudzi who have dropped out of school are among many other vulnerable girls from the community, who stand to benefit from an introduction of a three year ActionAid Empowering Girls in Zimbabwe to Overcome Barriers to Education Project starting from 2017 to 2019. The project, which is to be implemented in 18 districts in Nyanga District will be supporting girls in selected rural communities to secure access to education and protection from abuse. It will target 3 000 vulnerable in and out of school girls of 6-18 years. A total of 200 girls will be targeted under a direct school fees payment. Other programmes will include provision of sanitary wear for girls and economic empowerment of communities and schools for the benefit of women and girls.