Children’s rights proponent, Nyaradzo Mashayamombe has said the new Education Bill that the government of Zimbabwe recently gazetted provides hope for the more than 27% children of school going age who are currently out of school.
Mashayamombe said the chief reason for children failing to go to school is the inability by their parents or guardians to pay the required often exaggerated levies, tuition and enrolment fees.
The inability to pay fees affects the poor children who are subsequently shut out of school.
“Every Child In School #ECIS, a Campaign launched in 2017 by more than 250 organisations working in the children’s and youths sector in Zimbabwe, led by Tag a Life International Trust (TaLI) with the support of the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC), the Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ) and the the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI) commends the government of Zimbabwe for responding to our call to push for the education bill.
“We are however concerned by the lack of explicit commitment in the draft bill by the government to focus on the out of school children who are struggling to re-enter or enter schools. As the ECIS campaign, we have been calling for circulars and policies which allows especially the out of school children to be allowed access into schools even without the required fees and levies,” Mashayamombe said.
The existing circulars protect children already in school. This is in line with the Constitution of Zimbabwe Sections 27 and 75 which make it the responsibility of the government to ensure access to edcuation for every child. ECIS hereby encourages every citizen to participate in the on going Hearings of the Education Bill by the parliament of Zimbabwe across country, to air their views on what we already spoke about in the constitution, thus to make sure even the poor children have access to education. Doing so will ensure we defend our right and that of our children to education, human dignity, economic empowerment, social protection and wellbeing while leaving a strong legacy for sustainable development. Zimbabwe is the only country in Southern Africa which does not offer free basic education. We commend the response from the parliament of Zimbabwe to prioritise this bill as a response to our petition. On the 18th of December 2018, the speaker of parliament read our petition to parliament “Beseeching Parliament to protect the rights of every citizen to basic education: to call on the Government of Zimbabwe to enact a policy in line with the Constitution that instructs all school authorities to allow children whose parents cannot afford fees to be accepted in schools and to inquire into measures taken to avail resources to achieve the progressive realisation of basic state funded education as enshrined in Section 75(1) of the Constitution. They subsequently promised to release the bill. Here is the parliament preliminary schedule for the hearings so that you may attend; 1 April Cooksie Hall Chinhoyi 09.00hrs, 2 April Siakobvu Pri School Kariba 09.00hrs, 3 April Hala Africa Kimberly Hotel 0900hrs Bindura/ Mbuya Nehanda Hall Marondera 1400hrs, 4 April Queens Hall Mutare 10.00hrs, 5 April Masvingo Civic Centre Masvingo 09.00hrs, 15 April Sibasa Hall Filabusi 08.30hrs/ April Mabuthweni Hall Bulawayo 14.00hrs, 16 April Lupane Town Hall Lupane 10.30hrs, 17 April Gweru Civic Centre Gweru 09.00hrs.