Govt to in­tro­duce free ed­u­ca­tion

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - FRONT PAGE - Sharon Mun­jen­jema and Lin­coln Towindo

GOVERN­MENT schools will next year be­gin of­fer­ing free ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, while cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment will be abol­ished in terms of a new law that is set to be in­tro­duced.

Au­thor­i­ties will amend the Ed­u­ca­tion Act when Par­lia­ment re­sumes sit­ting early next year to align the law with Sec­tion 27 of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Sec­tion 27, “The State must take all prac­ti­cal mea­sures to pro­mote: (a) Free com­pul­sory ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren; and (b) higher and ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion.”

Cabi­net ap­proved the Ed­u­ca­tion Amend­ment Bill last week, which, among other things, pro­motes eq­ui­table devel­op­ment of schools across all re­gions, the learn­ing of lo­cal lan­guages and guar­an­tees the rights of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. The Bill now awaits gazetting. Brief­ing The Sun­day Mail on Govern­ment’s 2019 leg­isla­tive plan, Jus­tice, Le­gal and Par­lia­men­tary Af­fairs Min­is­ter Ziyambi Ziyambi also said Govern­ment will con­sider at least three dif­fer­ent Con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments.

He said: “We have an amend­ment to the Ed­u­ca­tion Bill, we want to give ef­fect to the pro­vi­sions in the Con­sti­tu­tion, par­tic­u­larly those that deal with the re­quire­ment that the State has to fund ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion.

“The Bill also en­sures that chil­dren that are also within a par­tic­u­lar zone are not dis­ad­van­taged by those that come from other ar­eas; they must be given pri­or­ity and if they can­not get a place, then the head­mas­ters of those schools should give a cer­tifi­cate so that they can go to the near­est zone.

“It will also deal with the area of teach­ing of our lo­cal lan­guages; it will ad­dress the is­sue of teach­ing of chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties — that fa­cil­i­ties have to be availed to them.

“The Bill has been drafted, when we re­sume sit­ting it will be tabled in Par­lia­ment.

“That’s what the Con­sti­tu­tion says that learn­ers from Grade One to Seven should have their ed­u­ca­tion funded be­cause that is ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion.” Free ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion was stopped

◆ dur­ing the early 1990’s at the height of Govern­ment’s Eco­nomic Struc­tural Ad­just­ment Pro­gramme (ESAP) that wit­nessed mas­sive re­duc­tion of fund­ing for so­cial ser­vices.

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view, Pri­mary and Sec­ondary Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Pro­fes­sor Paul Mav­ima said: “The law ba­si­cally en­joins the State to pro­gres­sively fund the learn­ing of ev­ery child.

“Tu­ition fees will be pro­gres­sively done away with, while the is­sue of levies will be dealt with later on.”

He added that the pro­posed law would also re­quire school au­thor­i­ties to use al­ter­na­tive means of dis­ci­plin­ing pupils.

“The law will ba­si­cally out­law cor­po­ral pun­ish­ment as way of dis­ci­plin­ing a child,” said Min­is­ter Mav­ima.

“We have to come up with al­ter­na­tive ways of dis­ci­plin­ing and do away with can­ning.”

Fur­ther­more, Min­is­ter Ziyambi said the Con­sti­tu­tion will be amended to ex­tend the pro­vi­sion of the women’s quota in the Na­tional Assem­bly.

Sec­tion 124(b) of the Con­sti­tu­tion pro­vides for 60 ad­di­tional seats for women Mem­bers of the Na­tional Assem­bly elected through a sys­tem of pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion based on the votes a party re­ceives in a par­tic­u­lar prov­ince.

The pro­vi­sion was set to sub­sist for the first two Par­lia­ments and would fall away for the 2023 gen­eral elec­tions.

How­ever, Govern­ment in­tends to ex­tend it.

Fur­ther amend­ments will also in­clude the re­moval of clauses re­quir­ing Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans to sit in Provin­cial and Metropoli­tan Coun­cils.

He said the con­tra­dic­tion be­tween Sec­tion 67 and Sec­tion 281 will also be con­sid­ered for pos­si­ble re­view.

While Sec­tion 67 pro­vides ev­ery cit­i­zen with the right to make po­lit­i­cal choices freely, it is in direct con­tra­dic­tion with pro­vi­sions of Sec­tion 281 (2) (a), which bars tra­di­tional lead­ers from par­tic­i­pat­ing in pol­i­tics.

Sec­tion 67 reads: “Ev­ery Zim­bab­wean cit­i­zen has the right: (a) to free, fair and reg­u­lar elec­tions for any elec­tive pub­lic of­fice es­tab­lished in terms of this Con­sti­tu­tion or any other law; and (b) to make po­lit­i­cal choices freely.”

Sec­tion 281 (2) (a) pro­vides that: “Tra­di­tional lead­ers must not be mem­bers of any po­lit­i­cal party or in any way par­tic­i­pate in par­ti­san pol­i­tics.”

He said the con­tra­dic­tion needs to be looked into with a view to amend­ing the pro­vi­sions.

“We have a lot of con­tra­dic­tions that are in the Con­sti­tu­tion; one of them is that of MPs who sit in Par­lia­ment, they are al­lo­cated a bud­get and then they go to provin­cial coun­cils and sit in those too, yet they are the ones who are sup­posed to su­per­vise the coun­cil.

“We feel that there are in­con­sis­ten­cies there. The ideal thing is that they should not even sit in provin­cial coun­cils.

‘So de­bate is there that we have to amend the Con­sti­tu­tion if we are to have ef­fi­cient provin­cial coun­cils.

“In the same way we also have sev­eral pro­vi­sions within the Con­sti­tu­tion that may be vi­o­lat­ing other peo­ple’s rights.

“I will give one (ex­am­ple) that is con­tro­ver­sial that needs to be de­bated: Sec­tion 67 says that ev­ery­one has po­lit­i­cal rights, but there is a sec­tion on tra­di­tional lead­ers that says they should be apo­lit­i­cal and should not par­tic­i­pate in pol­i­tics.

“But Sec­tion 67 has one of the rights that are en­trenched in Chap- ter Four of the Con­sti­tu­tion on fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights. At law, where you have pro­vi­sions that are con­flict­ing, the one that gives more hu­man rights pre­vails.”

He said there is need for har­mon­i­sa­tion of the pro­vi­sions to al­low tra­di­tional lead­ers to en­joy the po­lit­i­cal rights that are be­stowed to ev­ery Zim­bab­wean.

Act­ing Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe Mr Zhao Bao­gang(in black suit) and Col­clore Fur­ni­ture Zim­babwe chair­man Mr Wang Xue­bin host early Christ­mas party for the com­pany, em­bassy staff, and lo­cal jour­nal­ists at a lo­cal restau­rant in Harare yes­ter­day

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