By Romio Takundwa
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, (ARTUZ) and Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) today celebrated the Day of the African Child paying tribute to all the young people who have played an active role in fighting for an improved education sector.
The Day of the African Child is celebrated annually on the 16th of June in honors of students who were massacred in Soweto, South Africa, in 1976 for protesting against injustice and inequalities in the education sector by the apartheid regime.
In a virtual event under the theme “Asserting the right to education, claiming our future” various submissions were made by presenters on the need for government to be sincere in the resuscitation of the country’s education sector.
ARTUZ spokesperson, Claudia Machida bemoaned the lack of willingness by government to allocate a bigger fraction of the national budget towards the education sector. She added that the challenges including underpayment of teachers have resulted in social ills such as drug abuse and teenage pregnancies.
“Zimbabwe’s investment towards education for the past three years has consistently been a paltry 13% of total annual budget, way below the around 22% prescription from Dakar declaration and far below the Sub Saharan average of around 16%. Consequently, teachers are incapacitated because of underpayment, learners are dropping out because they cannot afford tuition fees, schools have limited teaching and learning materials and pass rates are consistently dropping. Child marriages are on the rise, the youth are taking to drugs and in short, the future of the youth is being systematically decimated”, she said.
ZINASU secretary general Tapiwa Chiriga highlighted the constitutional provisions together with other regional conversions to which Zimbabwe is a signatory to remind the government of its obligations to ensure that the education is accessible, affordable and of the highest standards possible.
“This is not something coming out of our heads without basis. The sustainable development goals speak of the progressive realization of the right to education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child is very clear on the right to affordable and accessible education. We have a supreme law of the land, whose Section 75 is unambiguous in casting the right to education in stone.
“The government of Zimbabwe itself has had an ambitious Agenda 2020 that promised free education by 2020”, said Chiriga.