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Parliamentary Roundup Bulletin No. 32 - 2011
Southern African Parliamentary Support Trust
October 04, 2011

Introduction

The House of Assembly resumed sitting today after a week-long break. The House only sat for 35 minutes before it adjourned for Wednesday 5 October 2011. The Senate is still on break until Tuesday 11 October 2011.
House of Assembly Plenary Proceedings

Restoration of Lapsed Motions to the Order Paper

As indicated above, the house of Assembly barely sat for 35 minutes before adjourning to the following day. No major business was transacted save for the restoration of lapsed motions to the Order Paper and the adoption of Hon. Willias Madzimure.s motion on Asiagate involving the National Soccer Team and notices of motions by the Deputy minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, Hon. Dr. Samuel Undenge on bilateral agreements.

Hon. Kudakwashe Bhasikiti moved for the restoration of his condolence motion on the death of Retired General Solomon to the Order Paper. The motion had lapsed due to lack of quorum on Wednesday 21 September.

Hon. Tangwara Matimba moved for the restoration of his motion on the First report of the Portfolio Committee on Local Government regarding service delivery by the municipalities of Harare, Norton and Chitungwiza. The motion had lapsed due to the prorogation of the 3rd Session.

Adoption of Motion on Match-Fixing Scandal

Hon. Willias Madzimure (MDC-T Kambuzuma) wound up his motion on the match-fixing scandal, better known as “Asiagate”, involving the national football team in Asian countries. Since the motion was adopted by the House yesterday, it is now incumbent upon parliament administration to facilitate the establishment of a Parliamentary Committee, as recommended by Hon. Madzimure, to investigate and determine the role played by the Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) and Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) in the Asiagate scandal.

Notices of Motions

The Deputy Minister of Economic Planning and Investment Promotion, Hon. Dr. Samuel Undenge gave notices of motions on Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) between the government of Zimbabwe and governments of Iran, India and Botswana.

Update on Activities of Committees

The Portfolio Committee on Education, Arts, Sport and Culture conducted public hearings on challenges faced by the education sector. The hearings were conducted in Mutasa District (Manicaland Province), Nemanwa (Masvingo Province) and Senate Chambers (Harare Province) on 27 and 28 September and 4 October 2011, respectively.

Prominent organizations that made submissions at the public hearings were the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta). These two unions were represented at all three gatherings. At Mutasa and Nemanwa, organisations representing parents at various schools (School Development Committees) were also present. Harare also saw the church represented by the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ). Major highlights of public views are given below:

Conflict Issues:

  • Schools had been turned into centres of conflict that pervaded the polarised political environment in Zimbabwe
  • There were too many centres of power in the educational sector, which increased areas of conflict. These included school headmasters, SDCs, traditional and political leaders
  • The concept of .a safe learning environment. espoused by the Ministry of Education must be complemented by the concept of .a safe teaching environment.; one cannot exist without the other
  • There is general insecurity for teachers in Zimbabwe. This tends to create shortages of trained personnel in high risk areas, creating a deficit in the quality of education in those areas
  • Lack of decisiveness on the part of the relevant authorities has led to violence being perpetrated at schools;
  • There is undue interference with the educational system by people that should not have any role to play in the system
  • Teachers feel left out of national processes: They should be part of the forthcoming referendum and elections. They were left out of the constitutional process by threats of violence
  • Politicians were force-marching children to rallies to boost their numbers
  • Schools should not be used for political purposes

Curriculum:

  • The primary school syllabus in Zimbabwe was congested and overloaded
  • Primary school children were doing 11 subjects - yet sixth formers (on average aged 16-18) were doing only 3! They had no time to play and grow. Teachers had no contact time with pupils. Grade ones must learn to read, rather than read to learn. In the SADC region, the average load at primary school was 7 subjects.
  • Class size in Zimbabwe was too big for adequate teacher-pupil contact. The ratio was abnormal.
  • At independence, the recommended teacher-pupil ratio was 25; today some classes can reach 50. There is no way a teacher under these circumstances can give adequate attention to all the students
  • Conservation agriculture must be incorporated into the curriculum

Teachers’ Incentives:

  • While the original intentions were noble, these had become a source of conflict, tension and disparity in the education sector,
  • It should be the primary role of the State as the employer to remunerate its employees. The State should never abrogate its obligations
  • It appeared that education was not adequately prioritized in national planning
  • Government must adequately pay its workers to ensure the quality of education is not compromised Infrastructure:
  • Educational infrastructure has been crumbling countrywide; efforts must be made to ensure this trend is arrested and reversed
  • The current infrastructure is generally not friendly to teachers and students with disabilities
    There are no support services for the disabled in education. This problem starts even from teachers colleges

Financing Education:

  • The financing of education must be benchmarked to regional and international standards in terms of percentage to the GDP of expenditure on education.
  • It is the primary role of Government to ensure that education remains a right; it is not a privilege.
  • The financing of educational infrastructure should remain the role of the State.
  • The current scenario tended to turn schools into battle grounds between headmasters and teachers on one hand, and parents on the other.

Morals in Schools:

  • The morality of students and pupils has gone down, and this reflects badly on the country, and is worrisome
  • The decadence was not confined to students; some teachers were impregnating students.
    Administration:
  • It does not seem that the current monitoring system in the educational system is workable.
  • The mushrooming of unregistered institutions calling themselves colleges reflects badly on government
  • Levies paid by parents are being abused by headmasters.
  • It appears current regulations do not permit the admission of guardians into school structures; this role is left to parents. This does not take account of the massive migrations and the impact of HIV that has left a huge percentage of learners under the care of guardians.
  • Private colleges asked for more land in which to carry out their work.
  • Others felt that the proliferation of so-called private colleges was compromising the quality of education. Some of these were rising on the bandwagon of indigenisation, but paid scant regard to existing legal frameworks
  • Children must be accommodated by the nearest school to their homes: Children were being made to walk long distances in some areas as there were no schools.
  • Teachers were abandoning their stations in order to pursue private business during working hours, thereby prejudicing their charges.

The Committee intends to take its public hearings to Matabeleland and Midlands Provinces before compiling its report, which will be tabled in the House of Assembly in due course.

Forthcoming Events

It is expected that the Minister of Finance, Hon. Tendai Biti will give a ministerial statement in Parliament today, on the Budget Strategy Paper (BSP), laying out the 2012 budget formulation process. This is in fulfilment of the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

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