ILLEGAL mining activities in Penhalonga are disrupting access to quality education to pupils in the area as the illegal miners are stealing school property and converting it into their tools of trade, The Manica Post has learnt.
One of the most affected schools, Elim Primary School, which is located just outside Penhalonga Township and at the centre of the illegal mining activities, has lost property worth thousands of dollars to the illegal miners.
The property include a water pump, fence, water tank and school furniture, thereby disadvantaging the more than 300 pupils enrolled there.
Elim Primary School head, Mrs Mutsa Kuwenyi said the illegal panners also blocked their water source.
The school has boarding facilities for hearing impaired children, while the rest are day scholars.
Operating the school without water inconveniences the school’s day-to-day activities as the children have special needs and need extra care.
“The school’s water pump was stolen shortly after it was installed. They also stole the 5 000-litre water tank that had been bought, but still to be erected.
“The church (Elim Pentecostal Church) decided to fence the school, but that did not deter the illegal panners from striking again. One day we woke to realise that 15 metres of the erected fence was gone.
“We have tried to engage the illegal panners in dialogue, but our efforts have been in vain,” she said. A reverend with Elim Pentecostal Church, Reverend Pious Munembe said the illegal panning activities were disadvantaging children from accessing quality education, even though the church was doing all it could to capacitate the school.
Rev Munembe made the remarks last week on Friday where the church donated furniture, a photocopier, a 50-inch television set, stationery, 12 laptops and textbooks to the school.
The property is set to benefit the 16 hearing impaired pupils enrolled at Erin Primary School.
The donation was also meant to commemorate the World Deaf and Dumb Day which was commemorated last week on Saturday.
He, however, called for an alert security system at the school as the donated property might end up in the wrong hands.
“As a church, we are doing all we can to compliment Government’s efforts to give quality education to every child regardless of their disability. The church has capacitated the school with a conducive environment for hearing impaired children, but we need to bring in the community so that they also help in safeguarding the school property.
“The illegal panners need to realise that it is every child’s right to quality education. If they are violating that right by stealing the necessities for a child to get quality education, then they are not only inconveniencing the pupils, but the country as a whole,” said Rev Munembe.