Eleven year old, Tadiwa from Ward 19 of Nyanga stopped going to school in 2016. She was doing Grade 5 in 2016 and is supposed to be in Grade 6 in 2017.
Tadiwa stays with her grandmother who is chronically ill. Her father is late while her mother, who remarried after the death of her father, stays in another village in the same Ward 9 where Tadiwa stays.
Tadiwa’s older sibling, a boy is doing Form 6 and her mother stays with him and is paying the school fees for him. Tadiwa’s mother is a subsistence farmer and so is her new husband.
My grandmother is ill all the time while my mother said she could not afford paying for my school fees in 2017 and I have not been to school in 2017. I miss my friends at school as I am no longer seeing them. I am lonely here and would like to go school. I want to be a teacher if given an opportunity to go to school, Tadiwa said.
Tadiwa is one of the 3 000 vulnerable in and out of school girls of 6-18 years, who stand to benefit from an introduction of a three year ActionAid Empowering Girls in Zimbabwe to Overcome Barriers to Education starting from 2017 to 2019. The project, which is to be implemented in 18 districts in Nyanga District, east of Zimbabwe, will be supporting girls in selected rural communities to secure access to education and protection from abuse.
Focus Group Discussions done with community members and leaders for an ActionAid Baseline Study for the project done in April 2017 revealed that there were negative attitudes of parents/guardians and communities on issues to do with promoting education for girls. This came out clearly in Kanyimo Ward 4, in Nyanga where parents indicated the cultural norm that girls’ education is not really important, “as they will eventually get married”. Because of such norms, families would rather invest in educating the boy child as he is the one expected to provide for the family. As a result, not much effort is put in educating the girl child. According to the ward community care worker, Kanyimo Ward has a total of 28 children who have dropped out of school, 15 of those being girls.
The study also indicated that some girls who have dropped out of school generally have a negative attitude towards education. This is mostly due to cultural norms that marriage is more important than education. As a result, they drop out of school to elope and get married. However, there is high probability of abuse in these marriages and some often being forced to return to their parents and guardians’ homes.