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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.
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
"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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