MASVINGO –Helen McGhie Primary School authorities have reopened a tuck shop closed almost 22 years ago after an outcry from parents over its negative effects on children and issues related to accountability.
The parents complained that the tuck-shop distracts kids from their school work and demanded that it be shut down.
Sources at the school told The Mirror that the tuck-shop was shut down around 2000 after parents complained that children were stealing money from home or from each other to buy goodies from the tuck-shop.
The tuck-shop was also closed because it was difficult to make the school head accountable for the money generated there.
Parents who spoke to The Mirror on condition of anonymity said children need US$1 to spent at the tuck-shop daily to buy burgers and drinks and if parents don’t give them or cannot afford; some kids resort to other means of getting the money.
“I have two kids at the school and I have problems every morning with them demanding money to buy goodies. If you tell them, you don’t have the money, they will scream at you and say other parents are giving their children,” said the parent.
Another parent said a tuck-shop at a primary school is bad because it stigmatizes those children whose parents cannot afford.
“Tuck-shops are not bad for higher institutions like secondary schools upwards. For kids, it’s a different story; they feel out of place if they don’t get what their contemporaries are getting and in particular food.
“A tuck-shop at a primary school is a very bad idea. It creates distinct class differences and this has a negative effect on children. It distracts kids from their school work,” said another parent.
The parents also complained that the tuck-shop was a play by some senior members at the school to squander money.
Helen McGhie School Development Association (SDA) chairperson Robert Murimoga said the tuck-shop was reopened as an income generating project.
He argued that children bought food from vendors at the school gate and this posed a health hazard.
“The tuck-shop is an income generating project for the school. The projects are a directive from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. Parents can voice their concerns at the next annual general meeting which will be held soon,” said Murimoga.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said his ministry allows tuck shops at schools and they do not have a problem with it.
One parent raised a concern during a school fees top-up meeting held at the school recently that his children were pestering him for money to buy hot dogs every day because other pupils were being given money by their parents.
“The tuck-shop was closed in 2 000 because parents did not want their children to steal from their classmates and teachers to buy fast foods. Other pupils are now in the habit of stealing money or lying that they have some event which they need money for,” said the parent.
Another parent however, said there is nothing wrong with the school having a tuck-shop and those who can’t afford to give their children money should not complain.
“The tuck-shop is a good idea being implemented by the school and those with money can give their children to buy food stuffs. Food being sold at the tuck-shop is better than that which the children are buying from vendors,” said another parent.