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Youth training centres slammed

Augustine Mukaro/Shakeman Mugari

THE Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Youth, Gender and Employment Creation has slammed living conditions at national youth training centres which they describe as a healt

h hazard.

Presenting its report to parliament last week, the committee said it found the living conditions of the trainees deplorable, especially at Guyu Training Centre near Gwanda.

The committee visited three training centres – Border Gezi in Mt Darwin, Mushagashe in Masvingo, and Guyu.

The tour was prompted by allegations made by the Panorama documentary made by Britain’s BBC.

The report revealed that the trainees at all government-run youth training centres were living in squalor.

“The living conditions of trainees leave a lot to desired, especially at Guyu,” the report said.

“The committee found that the trainees had no training kit or uniform. The diet of the trainees does not reflect a balanced diet as there is no variety and in some cases, the amounts are inadequate.”

The committee also said that there were problems with the provision of clean water and the girls were not adequately provided for in terms of sanitary wear.

“The water for Guyu is a cause for concern to your committee. The drinking water is from a dam and is stored in a reservoir tank. The water needs to be boiled first before use and the trainees indicated doubt as to whether the water is fit for human consumption,” the report said.

The committee was distressed with the conditions at Guyu Training Centre where the barracks did not even have doors.

“The roof on one of the male dormitories was blown off by wind, and it has not been repaired. Your committee toured the toilets and found them very dirty and a health hazard to the trainees,” the report said.

During the tour it was also discovered that the curriculum was a mere duplication of the vocational training centres and there were no uniform qualifications for the lecturers.

One of the committee members, Evelyn Masaiti (MDC), blasted the programme as one designed for the poor, used to oppress people and a tool to force loyalty to the state.

“Let me say the principle of national youth service is a noble idea in countries where there is democracy, for example, in Switzerland,” Masaiti said.

“However, here in Zimbabwe the way it is used is that of oppressing people.”

The committee could not find enough information to dismiss allegations made by the BBC Panorama documentary of sexual abuse of girls and the high prevalence of STD and HIV in the centres.

“I would like to inform the august House that it was difficult for us as a committee to get the truth because by the time we got to the training centres it was only a month after enrolment of the students, so it was difficult to ascertain the allegations,” Masaiti said.

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