The students were expelled or suspended mainly for exercising their students’ rights at their respective institutions. The students’ rights over the decade were trampled upon by administrations at institutions of higher learning and by law enforcement agents at the height of the near demise of the education delivery system in a bid to keep the institutions going in face of students’ protests. Most students were arrested, tortured, had their results withheld and were evicted from halls of residence before being expelled or suspended.
The AAO ceremony had over hundred students attending. The other participants included the students still receiving support from SST who are yet to complete their education against all odds. Also present at the ceremony were outstanding individuals who have contributed immensely to the students’ movement through various services such as legal representation at disciplinary hearings and courts and through moral and material support to students. The outstanding individuals included Honorable Thabitha Khumalo, Crisis in Zimbabwe Director and former coordinator of SST McDonald Lewanika, YET Director Lucy Mazingi, civil society leaders Itai Zimunya, Sizani Weza and Otto Saki.
Minister of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Nelson Chamisa who was once expelled from Harare Polytechnic College and Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) member Thabitha Khumalo urged students expelled or suspended from institutions of higher learning in the past decade not to despair and to complete their studies against all odds. Speaking at the 2012 AAO ceremony the minister reflected on the challenges students of his era faced and the protests they staged to press for academic freedoms and better learning conditions which resulted in his expulsion from Harare Polytechnic College.
“I am not boasting but I can proudly say it today that we have acquired education against odds after being expelled”, the minister said. The Minister lamented on the lack of government support in the education sector stating that the government should act as an enabler to students wishing to pursue further education. Chamisa after being expelled from Harare Polytechnic enrolled with the Institute of Marketing Management and later completed an undergraduate degree and masters degree with the University of Zimbabwe where he has also undertaken a second undergraduate degree.
Speaking at the same occasion JOMIC member and member of Parliament for Bulawayo East, a constituency where National University of Science and Technology (NUST), Hillside Teachers Training College and School of Mines are located, Honorable Thabitha Khumalo emphasized that students should not lose direction and the objective of going to school despite having been expelled from their respective institutions of higher learning. Khumalo recollected on victimization accounts she regularly receives from students from her constituency.
Students from a Norwegian based Students and Academics International Help Fund (SAIH) congratulated the students who have completed their studies against all odds. The Student Solidarity Trust continues to lobby the inclusive government to institute reforms in the education sector to allow students to enjoy their rights.Post published in: News