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violence and intimidation against teachers in Zimbabwe
Research and Advocacy Unit [RAU] & Progressive Teachers Union
of Zimbabwe [PTUZ]
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is a follow-up of a report published
earlier in February titled, "Every School has a Story to Tell:
Teachers experience with elections in Zimbabwe". Whilst the
first report is largely given in summary form, recording the violations
that teachers have experienced since 2000, this present report gives
deeper understanding to the violations and puts them in a global
perspective. The report feeds into a broad campaign to promote the
Right to Education by calling for the criminalisation of attacks
on education and educational institutions. The report bridges the
gap and provides knowledge of the existence and extent of attacks
on education in Zimbabwe.
One of the key
observations is that Zimbabwe, though not in a state of war, is
listed amongst 9 countries that are leading in the attack on education.
This is largely due to the fact that during every election since
2000, the country resembles a state of war as a result of state-sponsored
violence. But the attacks on education and militarisation of educational
institutions have escaped the attention they deserve and have only
reported under general human rights violations. The extent of the
continued occurrence of attacks on education contradicts the claims
of high literacy rate figures Zimbabwe has recorded.
the two reports lay a strong foundation for further research to
aid the campaign to declare schools as safe zones for peace. These
areas in need of further investigation would include specific aspects
of the military involvement in education and political use.
Some of the
key findings of the report include the following;
- The age
group of the teachers had an effect of whether teachers experienced
or witnessed violence. The younger the teachers, the more prone
they were to attacks. 18% of the sample was under the age of 30
and was unlikely to disclose their political or trade union affiliation
because of the associated dangers.
to a trade union also had a bearing on whether one was attacked.
66% of the respondents refused to disclose their trade union affiliation
as well as their political party affiliation. It is most likely
that those associated with a trade union recorded high incidences
- The study
also established that most violations that took place against
teachers did so during school hours, or at the very least in full
view of school children. This has long term effects on violence
on the society as violence breeds violence.
- Since schools
are major focal points for community activities, and mostly community
enhancing activities, this abuse of school facilities is extremely
serious, especially, as was pointed out above, where children
can be exposed to very damaging events. From the current data
it is not possible to determine whether the bases identified were
at schools or not: in the design of the study, it was felt to
be too threatening to ask this question of the teachers.
- 242 teachers
stated that there was a base in their area, with bases mentioned
in 46 Districts within Zimbabwe. 122 teachers could identify the
commander by name, and the most important observation is that
the bases fell under the command of officers with military background.
The report concludes
with a number of recommendations as follows:
1. The Government
of Zimbabwe must immediately declare schools as zones of peace and
as such enact laws that restrict and criminalise the use or occupation
of schools for political activities, especially during the electoral
2. Civic society
and teacher unions must develop monitoring systems to detect early
warning systems of attacks on education and to report political
disturbances in schools in compliance with UN Resolution No. 1612
with additional modifications relevant to the situation in Zimbabwe.
3. The Ministry
of Education in conjunction with critical stakeholders like the
police, parents and teacher unions must set up school protection
committees so that social services rendered by schools are not interrupted
during times of conflict like elections
4. The Joint
Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) must actively investigate
all reports involving political violence and intimidation against
teachers, and at schools.
5. The government
must uphold strictly provisions of paragraph 20 to the First Schedule
of Statutory Instrument 1 of 2000 (Public Service Regulations, 2000)
and clauses 79, 80 and 81 of the ILO/UNESCO Recommendations concerning
the Status of Teachers to negate the current insistence on teachers
being compelled to support only one political party.
6. The Ministry
of Education must introduce civic education in the primary and secondary
school curriculum which promotes national cohesion, peace and tolerance;
7. The process
of national healing, if ever it is ever going to take off meaningfully,
should have a thematic area dealing with the education sector in
order to restore the social bond between teachers and communities
which has been weakened by recurrent election violence and politicisation
of the public service.
8. Overall compliance
with the spirit and letter of the GPA
is strongly recommended in order to curb on institutionalised violence.
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