This thesis is the documentation of an investigation to explore the impact of
the urban street community on young children?s educational development in
Zimbabwe. The study specifically sought to find familial circumstances of
street vendors and their children, and the challenges faced by street vendors?
children in their cognitive and emotional development. The study was guided
by the interpretivist paradigm and conducted according to the qualitative
approach. For the purpose of carrying out this research, a multiple case study
design was employed to investigate six street vendors and their three-year-old
children, as well as one social worker. Relevant information was gathered
through interviews with the parents and the social worker, interaction with the
children and observation.
The findings revealed that the current Zimbabwean economy is less
accommodative for human survival, particularly for the generality of citizens
whose income is below the poverty datum line. The majority of street vendors
rely on the least satisfactory provisions for human survival in the form of
meagre family resources derived from their vending expeditions in urban
streets. The findings further revealed that street vendors? children face a
plethora of challenges, which include health and safety issues as they spent
most of their childhood on the streets with their vending mothers. They are
also excluded from preschooling opportunities because their parents cannot
afford to provide for their education requirements. As a result, they do not
enjoy equal educational development opportunities as their peers from
privileged Zimbabwean communities are exposed to. Yet, at school, they are
expected to compete in equal measure for academic achievement initiatives
without considering the impact the street vending experience has on their
cognitive and emotional development.
Although the Zimbabwe Children?s Act of 1989 provides for the protection of
children, it was noted with concern that street vendors? young children were
not fully protected by this policy. The majority of these children are generally neglected. There is, therefore, a need for the government to effectively
implement legislation on children?s rights that will guarantee protection of
vulnerable and disadvantaged children, such as the children of street vendors.