21st February Movement Celebrations – School Closures

Wednesday witnessed yet another poignant news that was to violate the right to education of many school going children in Matabeleland region particularly Bulawayo province. In view of the foregoing, school going children both primary and secondary were told not to attend Thursday and Friday lessons in anticipation that their school facilities would accommodate 21st Movement guests to the President’s birthday festivities on the 25th February, 2017 at Rhodes Estate Preparatory School (REPS) in Matobo District.1 Added to this, in some schools, students were explicitly told that the long weekend was meant to pave way for those that would want to attend the 21st Movement celebrations yet others treated the issue with hesitancy citing that it was a government directive to have such a ‘holiday’.

In a telephone interview with one receptionist at Khumalo primary who highlighted that, ‘We have been told to suspend Thursday and Friday lessons by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in unclear circumstances.’2 Such reverberations of temporary school closure was received with varied reactions by both parents and civic organizations in the region who criticised the government for its unprecedented abuse of power that violates the right  to education for children in the region.

While parents were more concerned with the violation of the right to education of their children, civic organisations in the region questioned the legitimacy and constitutional grounding of the 21st Movement celebration for it to affect the day to day learner ship environment of students. As the wrangle heightened in social media platforms with some quarters attacking the government stance yet others championing the movement celebrations, Hon. Lazarus Dokora was swift in dismissing the temporary school closure as hoax and gross fabrication bent on demonizing the celebration.3 The permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education equally concurred with the views of the minister but however confirmed that a chosen number of schools would accommodate visitors envisioned to attend the 21st Movement celebrations.

Alert- School Closures

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