Opening greater opportunities for children

9 May 2019

“It's taken me all this time, all this loss, to realize what really matters is now. Not our memories”, said Suzanne Young. With the reminiscence of childhood, most of us were inhumanly treated at school and in the societies we lived in. Is this the life we want for our kids? Always living in fear of who is going to care and at what point will they be beaten for the small mistakes that they make.

In light of the Education Amendment Bill of 2019 enacted by the Parliament and the President of Zimbabwe, more good than harm has been portrayed in the education system with its main focus on children

. The bill has brought up issues of free basic education, an end to corporal punishment, inclusion of children with disabilities as well as provision of user friendly resources, it has also highlighted the inclusion of both adult basic education and child education and admission of pregnant girls into formal schools among other things. However, the bill has failed to h

ighlight on how and what sort of punishment is going to be used to discipline the children and the bill has also failed to highlight the process of payment of fees for under privileged children. Thus raising questions as to who is entitled to assess whether Child A or Child B is fit to receive fees assistance.

According to the newly educational Bill, Section 68A Pupil discipline the responsible authority of every school shall draw up a disciplinary policy for the school in accordance with standards set out in regulations prescribed by the Minister. Moreover, the regulations and any disciplinary policy shallnot permit any treatment whichdoes not respect the human dignity of a pupil educ

ation amendment, amounts to physical or psychological torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Furthermore, disciplinary measures must be moderate, reasonable and proportionate in the light of the conduct, age, sex, health and circumstances of the pupil concerned and the best interests of the child shall be paramount. No pupil may be suspended from school without first being granted a reasonable opportunity, with the support of his or her parents, to make representations with respect to the proposed suspension. In addition to, under no circumstance is a teacher allowed to beat a child. This has proved to be a good policy as children will learn being in their right mind. Thus this will help students to openly address their grievances or problems at home or environment without being afraid of what the teacher might do to the child. The overall view suggests that most child abuse cases are mostly noticed and exposed by children at school. Thus if the child can open up to a teacher more problems can be solved if they are being treated well at school.However the Bill has failed to address what and how the punishment of a child is going to be conducted. This then creates problems as to how teachers and school heads are going to monitor and enforce discipline as conflict is bound to happen.

Furthermore, the provision of basic state funded educationwill allow all children to go to school. Nelson Mandela stated that “education is the key to be better life” In this context attainment of education to all students will make their future bright. Introducing this idea the educational Bill will do more good than harm in that it will eliminate the significant number of Child headed families and Child marriages. Moreover, it will also mean the significant number of children will be independent as they progress with Schooling. It is also worthwhile to say that the introduction of state funded education will lessen the high poverty rates. This can be done in two ways: Firstly it allows bread winners to invest their salaries in other things such as infrastructure and entrepreneurial development and secondly it allows children to think through and solve economic problems in the long run and thus it lead to economic prosperity.

It is very important that the Society be inclusive. This allows development to take place as different ideas from different groups are in cooperated.  The inclusion of children with disability will go a long way as disability does not mean in ability. They are a number of famous people around the world who being disabled achieved and excelled much than able bodied people. For example people like Stevland  Hardaway Morris an American Musician, record  producer, song writer and multi-instrumentalist who was visually impaired, but he has 25 Grammy awards and managed to sell 100 million records all over the world  and Helen Adams Keller was an American author, political activist, and lecturer. She was the first deaf-blind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree. More importantly, In Zimbabwe, the late Director of the National Association for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH) and ZESN board member TsaraiMugoni was blind but had high esteemed positions.  In light of these examples it is evident that people with disabilities have the same capacity to achieve what their counter-parts are achieving.

Having said this, l would recommend that the Minister and the responsible parties quickly avail to the school the way in which disciplinary action and hearings will be conducted.

By: Marvelous Kudakwashe Magune

ZNCWC Programs Assistant



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