Education: What is being done?

It has been over two years since the Government of National Unity was formed, and people want to know what has truly changed in the interim. (Pictured: Link Community Development hosted a conference on behalf of the Zimbabwean Ministry oThanks to the work of Senator David Coltart in his capacity as the Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, there have been various policy announcements in the recent months. As well as that, his ministry is currently working on a huge revamp of the Education

The secondary pieces of legislation that have been created over the past decade pose an awkward problem. Looking at the statutory instruments from the 1987 Education Act reveals that the law is murky and sometimes confusing, and it has taken many weeks of hard work on the part of Coltart and his ministry to compile a comprehensive list that consolidates all the statutory instruments. At the same, there has been a lot of time taken to identify areas in the Act that need to change.

The Rights of the Child have been a major driving force when looking at the elements of Health and Safety that need to be integrated into schools all over the country. Currently Zimbabwe has an outdated curriculum, and Health and Safety is not at the top of the agenda with regards to legislation. However, this is all about to change. Coltart is looking at areas such as asbestos in schools and the controversial issue of corporal punishment. With extensive research being carried out, and legal draftsmen coming on board, we can be hopeful that the face of education in Zimbabwe will be changing for good.

Coltart is aware that his remit stops at the school gates, but is he is always thinking outside the box. A current concern for his ministry is making school travel safer by providing restrictions on what times pupils can be transported and making the use of seatbelts compulsory. This should allow parents to rest secure in the knowledge that their children will be safe at school. Not only is it going to be safer for children in terms of travel arrangements, but there will also be increased security at the school premises, with visitor restrictions being implemented.

Currently in Zimbabwe, all those of school going age are bound by law to attend primary school. However, this is does not go far enough. The African Charter on Rights and Welfare of the Child 1990 says, Every child shall have the right to education. This clearly means all must have a right to attend school.

Children with special educational needs in Zimbabwe are often the victims of prejudice. The statutory instrument entitled, Education (Enrolment and Exclusion) Regulation allows for the exclusion of children who fail to benefit from attendance at school due to their level of educational attainment, or any other reason. This highlights the injustice that pupils with special needs face in being removed from school because of their specific educational requirements. Does this not encroach on their right to education?

This is just another example of how human rights are frequently over looked in Zimbabwe. However, with the new Minister of Education working tirelessly for change, Zimbabweans can be confident that the educational sector will be changing to protect the rights of children and all those who are involved in teaching our nation.

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