Govt, coun­cil must act on squat­ter camp school

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Comment & Analysis -

PART of the coun­try’s na­tional ob­jec­tives as pro­nounced by the Con­sti­tu­tion of Zim­babwe zero in on ed­u­ca­tion. The sec­tion on ed­u­ca­tion says; “The State must take all prac­ti­cal mea­sures to pro­mote (a) free and com­pul­sory ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren; and (b) higher and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion . . . (2) The State must take mea­sures to en­sure that girls are af­forded the same op­por­tu­ni­ties as boys to ob­tain ed­u­ca­tion at all lev­els.

In June, the United Na­tions Hu­man Rights Coun­cil adopted a new res­o­lu­tion on the right to ed­u­ca­tion within the frame­work of its 35th ses­sion, which stresses Unesco’s lead role for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goal 4 (SDG4). The res­o­lu­tion reaf­firms the im­por­tance of en­sur­ing the hu­man right to ed­u­ca­tion as de­fined by in­ter­na­tional con­ven­tions, in­clud­ing no­tably Unesco’s Con­ven­tion against Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Ed­u­ca­tion, says the UN.

“The Res­o­lu­tion calls upon States to give full ef­fect to the right to ed­u­ca­tion, no­tably by “putting in place a reg­u­la­tory frame­work for ed­u­ca­tion providers guided by in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights obli­ga­tions”, and to pro­mote tech­ni­cal vo­ca­tional ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing as a means of en­sur­ing the re­al­i­sa­tion of the right to ed­u­ca­tion. The Res­o­lu­tion also en­cour­ages States to mea­sure progress in the re­al­i­sa­tion of the right to ed­u­ca­tion, such as by de­vel­op­ing na­tional in­di­ca­tors, and to con­sider jus­ti­cia­bil­ity when de­ter­min­ing the best way to give do­mes­tic le­gal ef­fect to the right to ed­u­ca­tion.”

In light of the above, we urge the Govern­ment and the Bu­l­awayo City Coun­cil to be proac­tive and en­sure that chil­dren liv­ing at squat­ter camps in Bu­l­awayo (and sim­i­lar set­tle­ments across the coun­try) have ac­cess to proper ed­u­ca­tion. In the pre­vi­ous edi­tion of this pa­per, we re­ported that about 300 chil­dren at Ngozi Mine squat­ter camp in Bu­l­awayo are at­tend­ing “school” in their sur­round­ings manned by un­trained per­son­nel, who were sim­ply “teach­ing them the ba­sics of how to read and write”. We be­lieve such a sce­nario is a recipe of dis­as­ter, as it does not give the chil­dren proper ed­u­ca­tion ground­ing to pre­pare them for the fu­ture so as to be well re­sourced adults who will be able to look af­ter them­selves and also help in the de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try.

While the ges­ture by those run­ning the said school might be noble, we how­ever, note that what the chil­dren are get­ting in the name of ed­u­ca­tion is a far cry from what they should get and thus, we be­lieve re­spon­si­ble au­thor­i­ties should chip in with­out any fur­ther de­lay. If the chil­dren can­not be ab­sorbed at nearby for­mal schools, then ef­forts should be made to for­malise the school and en­sure that trained teach­ers are sec­onded so that kids learn what is pre­scribed by the rel­e­vant min­istry.

Squat­ters es­tab­lished an il­le­gal school within the camp as they shun for­mal ed­u­ca­tion ar­gu­ing that not only is it ex­pen­sive but their chil­dren are also sub­jected to stereo­typ­ing within for­mal schools. Our news crew vis­ited the area and noted that the il­le­gal school is com­plete with a school build­ing, im­pro­vised teach­ers, elec­tric­ity con­nec­tions and a makeshift library to cater for the plus 300 pupils who are all of pri­mary school go­ing ages.

“The Act­ing Di­rec­tor of Hous­ing and Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, Mr Dic­tor Khumalo ad­vised that Ngozi Mine and Kil­lar­ney squat­ters were a chal­lenge. Even if they were re­moved from the ar­eas they usu­ally re­turned within a short space of time. Some of them own houses which they rent out else­where pre­fer­ring to squat. At Ngozi Mine an il­le­gal school had now been de­vel­oped. Rangers would be sent to the re­cently es­tab­lished il­le­gal squat­ter ar­eas,” reads the re­port.

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