Yesterday the Parliament of Zimbabwe through the approval by President Mnangagwa passed an amended Education Act.

It was passed that state schools can no longer shut educational doors to pupils who fall pregnant and teachers cannot cane them.  The amendments stats that “no pupils shall be excluded from school on the basis of pregnancy or nonpayment.

There was a debate about the issue with the former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE), Professor Paul Mavima arguing in favour of victims.

Expelling a girl for falling pregnant had a discriminatory effect in circumstances where she would have been impregnated by a colleague who in most cases, would be allowed to proceed with his education.

However, there were also some opposing forces to the motion labeling the move as condoning delinquency among pupils.

The Act has some strict new regulations and disciplinaty requirements as it advocates against treatment which does not respect human dignity of pupil, as highlighted by the excerpt.

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. Under no circumstance is a teacher allowed to beat a child.

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.

The same Act empowers the minster to fix school fees, bearing in mind differences in location and status of the school in question. The MoPSE Minister Cain Mathema expressed his gratitude to the development.

The President has just signed the law and we will fully enforce the provisions for the furtherance of education in the country. We believe the Act is a progressive legislation.

Dr Sifiso Ndlovu, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) Chief Executive Officer expressed that they were welcoming the Act’s provisions as it seemed to be progressive and copying with the changing modern society.

As zimta, we fully participated in the crafting of that law. Most of what we raised has been included. We abhor the use of corporal punishment because it is an old-fashioned tool of instilling discipline. It has the effect of engendering a violent society. We also support any measure meant to safeguard the interests and rights of the girl child. One such provision is outlawing the exclusion of those that fall pregnant. This is what other societies have embraced and we fully support the provision

Mr Raymond Majongwe of Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) was also in agreement of the Act though he had some concerns with it citing that some school pupils may take advantage of the stated rights of girls to ctually abuse them.

He aired valid points pointing out that, “there should have been more consultation on these measures, especially on corporal punishment. Pupils and students may end up abusing drugs knowing they will not be punished”.

Credit: Bulawayo24

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