WOZA fights for education

'Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty but government has thrown away the key'
HARARE - Even the might of the Mugabe regime is no match for the courageous Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) members - men, women and children - who marched for eight blocks through central Bulawayo last

week and in Harare on Monday to call for a reversal of the crippling 1000% increase in school fees.
There was an almost carnival atmosphere to the processions, with the singing marchers handing out copies of the May edition of the Woza Moya newsletter, which were eagerly accepted by passers by. Many children were in school uniform, signifying that this may be the last time they will be able to wear it.
At least 104 protesters spent the weekend in Bulawayo jails after 185 of them were arrested, including 73 children.
“The right to education is a fundamental human right, both under international and Zimbabwean law. The Education Act clearly states that children have a right to schooling and that primary education is compulsory and that parents have a duty to send their children to school. And yet these fee increases are effectively denying children that basic right,” says WOZA.
“Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty but government has thrown away the key. This is the same government whose arsenal to suppress the nation has been prioritised in the budget over the needs of educating the nation.”
As Mother’s Day approaches, mothers across Zimbabwe are faced with the stark choice of either feeding their children or educating them. Most cannot afford to do both. With the poverty datum line for a family of five at Z$35 million, and the minimum wage set at Z$7 million, those parents fortunate enough to be employed would have to spend their entire salary sending one child to school with nothing left over for any other basic needs.
The demonstrators submitted this list of demands to the authorities in both Harare and Bulawayo:
– NO more buying weapons to oppress us – YES to educating our children;
– NO more poor and starving children – YES to educated and healthy children;
– NO more lies and empty promises – YES to leaders who care and tell us the truth;
– NO more massive school fee increases – YES to affordable education for all
As many schools have also threatened to exclude children who cannot produce receipts, WOZA is also calling on all teaching staff and school administrations not to turn away children because their parents are unable to pay.
The movement to reverse the fee increases is part of WOZA’s continuing social justice campaign. Initial consultations across the country have made it clear that most Zimbabweans consider education to be a vital component of a socially just Zimbabwe.
WOZA has challenged Zimbabweans to choose: either remain silent and passively allow their children to be denied the fundamental right to an education, or join WOZA in demanding an end to these increases.

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