ZLHR challenges summary expulsion of minor from school

ZIMBABWE Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has asked authorities at Rugare Primary School in Harare to immediately reinstate a 13 year-old minor who was illegally expelled from school because she resides in a neighbouring suburb.

PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

On 11 May 2022, the Headmistress at Rugare Primary School suspended a
13 year-old Grade 6 pupil on the basis that she resides in Warren Park
suburb, which is an adjacent residential suburb to Rugare suburb.

The Headmistress told the minor that she was ineligible to be enrolled
at Rugare Primary School because she stays in Warren Park, which is
outside the zone for the school and that there are enough schools in
Warren Park, where she can be accommodated.

The expulsion took place despite the fact that the minor has been a
student Rugare Primary School since she enrolled for Grade 1 and that
it is already mid- term after lessons commenced on 3 May 2022.

In a letter written to the Headmistress at Rugare Primary School,
Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR told the school head that the summary
expulsion of the minor is unlawful and arbitrary as it had been done
without having observed the audi alteram partem rule, which is a
fundamental legal principle in which each party is entitled to a fair
hearing and given the opportunity to respond to evidence against them
and hence in breach of the principles of natural justice.

Chinopfukutwa protested that the expulsion of the minor is a breach of
her right to administrative justice guaranteed in Section 68 of the
Constitution and also constitutes a breach of her right to education
as provided for in terms of Section 75 of the Constitution. Moreover,
the human rights lawyer said, every child is entitled to school
education as provided for under Section 4 of the Education Act and
there is no provision in the Education Act which permits school
authorities to expel learners on the basis that they stay in an area
which is not in the designated zone for Rugare Primary School.

Chinopfukutwa said provisions of Section 75 of the Constitution and
the Education Act obliges school authorities to take all positive
steps to ensure the realisation of the right to education and not to
disable it in the manner the Headmistress had done.

Chinopfukutwa further argued that the decision to summarily expel the
minor from school is grossly unreasonable in its defiance of logic and
common sense such that no reasonable person acting on the same facts
would have arrived at the same decision.

He expressed concern that the summary expulsion of the minor had been
done almost in the middle of the school term when alternative schools
are fully enrolled, with uniforms and school fees having been fully
paid up and the abrupt change of learning environment would also
adversely affect her given that she is close to sitting for her Grade
7 examinations.

Chinopfukutwa asked the Headmistress to unconditionally reinstate and
allow the minor to attend lessons at Rugare Primary School and to make
the necessary arrangements to compensate her for lost learning time as
a result of the school authorities’ unlawful actions.

In the event that the Headmistress fails to comply with the demand,
the human rights lawyer said he will immediately approach the High
Court on an urgent basis to seek an order compelling her to reinstate
the minor at Rugare Primary School and the costs of such litigation
will be borne by the Headmistress.

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