A Farmers OffSpring (Part 1)Balancing Farm Work and Education

In rural communities, it has been noted that high school absenteeism happens during the farming season and this is mainly because most children will be helping their parents out in the fields. It has also been noted with great concern that these students will later on struggle to catch up in class. This has been happening for years and the situation is far from being addressed. Many questions have been raised concerning this- Is farming more important than the children’s education? Is it wise for parents to sacrifice their children’s future for high yields? Long ago farmers used practice Zunderamambo where the community would help each other with land preparation, planting, weeding and even harvesting, what changed?

A colleague once shared a story this other day. It was about how he had travelled to his rural home only to come across a 9-year-old who was herding his father’s many cattle. This kid was supposed to be in school during that time and when asked why that wasn’t the case, he responded by saying his father hadn’t paid school fees so they were not allowed anywhere near the school’s premises. The colleague bothered by what the child had just said, commanded the child to take him to the father who was very adamant and still maintained he was broke despite the evidence of wealth before him – his 50+ cattle. After a heated argument in which the colleague threatened to involve local authorities to address the issue of child labor, the father finally gave in and the following week the child was back in school with new uniforms and books. Your guess is as good as mine, someone managed to knock some sense into this hard-headed father. 

A different approach might actually help in addressing child labor especially when its coming from the people who can relate (farmers) so let’s discuss.  How do we address this? Let’s hear your thoughts.

By Lynette Simango

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