Zimta Indaba rejects national pledge

VICTORIA FALLS: Teachers want the controversial national pledge put through a process of consultation for Zimbabweans to decide whether it is proper or not.

Education minister Lazarus Dokora

Education minister Lazarus Dokora

Government, through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, introduced a national pledge which schoolchildren have to recite and Minister Lazarus Dokora said schools would start enforcing it starting this coming term.

Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) president, Richard Gundane, said imposing the national pledge on children is a violation of their rights.

He was briefing journalists on the sidelines of the 35th Zimta national annual conference in Victoria Falls on Wednesday.

Gundane said forcing the national pledge in schools was also infringing on teachers’ professional independence.

“We are currently debating on the issue of the national pledge and of course we are in a dilemma,” he said.

Gundane said with the pledge, the Zanu PF government was trying to patronise children which is against their rights as minors.

A parent recently approached the Constitutional Court seeking to bar schools from forcing schoolchildren to recite the national pledge while churches also challenged it.

Gundane said the bone of contention especially to Christians was the fact that it starts with a prayer before recital of the ‘patronising propaganda.’

“The solution is to revisit the whole process and subject the national pledge to a consultation stage,” said Gundane.

“We are going to discuss and come up with a position at the end of the conference,” Gundane said.

Besides the national pledge, Zimta wants lack of collective bargaining in the civil service addressed.

“We are concerned about lack of collective bargaining. There is no harmonisation of labour laws and the employer ends up just issuing arbitrary directives and circulars. We really need a change of policy in education and that has also to include equity and inclusivity of education as provided for in the Constitution,” said Gundane.

In January, government cancelled vacation leave and Zimta feels this together with use of inspectors instead of supervisors was old fashioned.

Last year the Civic Service Commission sent inspectors to carry out an audit in schools, a development that left hundreds of teachers with salary.

The government said the exercise was aimed at weeding out ghost workers but Zimta said it was flawed as government human resources management system is in shambles.

The Zimta conference started Wednesday and ends Saturday under the theme: “Equitable, quality education: A public human right good for sustainable societies.

About 250 Zimta members are attending.

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