Hundreds of teenagers in Gwanda District have dropped out of school and are now involved in gold panning activities.
According to a 2018 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report, Gwanda District had the highest number of school dropouts in Matabeleland South province standing at 1 130, of which 455 were from primary schools and 675 from secondary. The report reads in part:
The district has been hit by severe food shortages. A lot of mining activities are taking place in Gwanda and that contributed to children leaving school to look for money in the mines.
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Sibonakele Nyoni 21, a single mother of one has blamed the high school drop out rate to the malfunctioning Zimbabwean economy. She said:
I think the situation could have been different if the economy was well because we could be having fewer people thriving on illegal panning.
They could be doing better professional jobs, but since there are no jobs, people are forced to join gold panning or emigrate to South Africa in search of work.
In other words, we are living in a community where children don’t get inspired by education but by illegal gold panning and border jumping because there is quick money.
Meanwhile, Gwanda Residents Association (GRA) chairman Bekezela Maduma Fuzwayo said the teens are quitting school to go into artisanal mining for various reasons. He said:
In most cases, it is just for the love of the money which they see from wrong role models in older miners who come into the communities showing off sometimes huge takings from the mines.
At times some children end up in mining when parents genuinely run out of resources to help the kids through their education.
More: New Ziana