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  • DPM urges CSOs to complement work of thematic committees
    Students Solidarity Trust
    April 29, 2010

    Civil Society Organisations have important roles to play in the obtaining constitutional process together with other partners. These roles include among others educating, in particular, people from remote and marginalised regions of the country and oversight role on the process of writing the constitution, said Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Thokozani Khuphe in Nkayi. She was speaking in Matabeleland North at a Students Solidarity Trust (SST) Organised Constitutional Road Show on the right to education on Saturday March 27, 2010.

    Honourable Khuphe who is also the Vice President of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said that initiatives of reaching out to people ahead of the constitutional thematic committees are welcome as they enlighten people and spark off dialogue and debate on constitutional matters and therefore on some matters communities will be able to speak in one voice. On the right to education the DPM shared and embraced the sentiments of participants at the Road Show that it should be enshrined in the bill of rights of the constitution.

    Speaking at the same SST Nkayi Road Show Honorable Bhebhe of Nkayi Constituency said that Education at elementary level should be accessible and available to all and as such must be free. Bhebhe said that primary education in Nkayi is neither economically nor physically accessible to the majority and in some instances pupils walk for long distances. He said that secondary education should be progressively made more economically accessible to all by the government and therefore tuition fees must be within the economic reach to rural people. On tertiary education he said that the current cadetship scheme is inadequate to fully support students at institutions of higher learning and therefore there is a need for parliament to initiate proper mechanisms or funding structure for these students. Bhebhe also agitated for opening up of vocational training centres in remote and marginalised regions to impart practical skills and knowledge to rural communities.

    Parents and guardians of school going children at the Nkayi Education Road Show said that they have limited access to foreign currency and thus they can not afford what they called the exorbitant tuition fees. School going children complained of shortages of core text books; teachers and that they go to school on empty stomachs.

    The Education Road Show is part of SST's activities in the campaign "Education must be a constitutional Right". The campaign advocates for the right to education to be incorporated in the bill of rights, domestication of International Conventions on education, protection of the needs of differently abled students and engendering of the education curriculum. Zimbabwe's constitution does not clearly provide for the right to education in the bill of rights. This is contrary to Article (I) of the African Charter on the rights and welfare of the child which clearly states that:
    "Member states of the African Union parties to the present Charter shall recognize the rights, freedoms and duties enshrined in this charter and shall undertake to the necessary steps in accordance with their constitutional processes and with the provisions of the present Charter, to adopt such legislative or other measures as may be necessary to give effect to the provisions of this Charter."

    Although Zimbabwe is a signatory to this charter, no steps whatsoever have been taken to include a specific right to education in the constitution. It is only provided for in the Education Act in Section 4 (Chapter 25:04).This violates the inalienable right of students to education. The regime which was in place before the inclusive government used to have an outside veneer of democracy yet it was wholly dictatorial. They would ratify conventions but do nothing when it comes to adopting them into the constitution. The South African constitution provides for this right to education in Chapter 2 Section (29).

    The Zimbabwean government is a signatory to the International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which obliges states in Article 2, to "take steps individually and through international assistance and cooperation, especially economically and technologically, to the maximum of it's available resources, with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of the rights recognized in the present covenant and all appropriate means including particularly adopting legislative measures.

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