(Public Statement 2/2017)
Issue Date: 22 February 2017
The Circular directive by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education officials made in the morning of Wednesday 22 February 2017 ordering most Bulawayo Schools to close for two days on Thursday and Friday to pave accommodation for the 21st February Movement delegates’ accommodation is an unreasonable violation of the Constitution of Zimbabwe and the basic fundamental rights of children.
Section 19 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that (1) The State must adopt policies and measures to ensure that in matters relating to children, the best interests of the children concerned are paramount. (2) The State must adopt reasonable policies and measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to ensure that children – (c) are protected from maltreatment, neglect or any form of abuse; and (d) have access to appropriate education and training.
It is therefore evident and clear to every reasonable Constitution abiding citizen of Zimbabwe that:
- Directing schools to close for two days and children lose their fundamental rights to education and learning because of the need to pave accommodation space for delegates attending a private birthday function is not to the best interests of the children.
- This decision of closing Bulawayo schools for two days is not reasonable considering that the private birthday party concerned is on Saturday and delegates accommodated in schools could have arrived on Friday evening.
- This decision exposed children to maltreatment and neglect as well as the abuse of rights.
- Obviously the appropriate education and training of children is jeopardized as the directive takes them from school for two full days.
As Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights, a non-profit human rights think tank that exists to enhance the promotion, protection and fulfilment of human rights and freedoms in Matabeleland:
- We wish to express our displeasure in this blatant and unwarranted unreasonable violation of the children’s rights by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education officials.
- Realizing their continued administrative discord and confusion, we call on the two officials (Permanent Secretary and Minister of Primary and Secondary Education) to resign immediately from their posts and give way to patriotic capable people.
- Noting that this ill-informed decision is a clear sign of the continued failures of a centralized governance system of that is divorced from local realities, we thus demand the immediate total and full devolution of administrative and decision making powers in the education sector to give such paramount decision making to Provincial Education Authorities.
The General Secretary
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights