Government slammed for failing on education

David Hofisi from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

By Tererai Karimakwenda
SW Radio Africa
12 June, 2014

Lawyers have had to intervene to force a school to release O-level results of a student who had fallen behind on school fees.

Nyamhunga Government School in Kariba had denied Bellinda Kazongo the results of her ordinary level exams which she sat for last year, because the 17-year old student owed the school $150.

It was only after David Hofisi from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) intervened and threatened to sue on her behalf that the school released the results. The lawyer, using the new Constitution, had argued that the school was violating Bellinda’s Constitutional right to a free education.

Hofisi had been approached by Bellinda’s parents at one of the “mobile legal clinics” that the lawyers’ group has been running across the country since January. These aim to make legal services available to marginalised and vulnerable communities, and to raise awareness of their rights enshrined in the Constitution.

Meanwhile, in commemoration of the Day of the African Child, the MDC-T Youth Assembly has strongly criticized government for failing to provide adequate educational assistance to students and teachers, also citing the Constitution.

Spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo said their theme, “Demanding Accessible, Affordable, Quality Education, Jobs and Equal Opportunities for All”, resonates with the struggles that the young people of Zimbabwe are faced with.

“The very big challenge and problem is on the part of the government, which does not want to respect the law. The Constitution is clear in terms of how the education sector must operate,” Hlatywayo told SW Radio Africa.

“So for a school, more so a government school, to force a child to pay money that he or she cannot afford is a gross human rights abuse. Children in Zimbabwe must not be denied their basic rights to education,” he added.

The MDC-T released a statement saying “over a million children have failed to go back to school because government failed to secure funding for the Basic Education Assistance Model, BEAM.” The party also slammed the conditions of service for teachers and lecturers as well as measures being considered to deny paying them during holidays as “appalling”.

Hlatywayo said the Youth Assembly will be holding commemorative events demanding jobs as well as quality, free education. The campaign kicks off in Bulawayo on Saturday then moves to Chitungwiza on Sunday, Harare on Monday and the Midlands on June 21st.

Meanwhile, the state-run Herald newspaper reports that two students had to walk 100 kilometres from Bikita to Masvingo to write their 2014 Biology Paper examination at night, after Zimsec failed to deliver question papers to their centres on time.

Many such incidents go unreported as the broke government struggles to manage an economy that continues to deteriorate, due to corruption and the policies that drive away investors.

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