Zimbabwe says school examinations to go ahead but idea is not to punish pupils


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Zimbabwe High Education Minister Amon Murwira yesterday said school examinations would go ahead as scheduled but the intention was not to punish pupils.

He said this in Parliament in response to questions from several legislators who wanted to know why the government was going ahead with the examinations when pupils were not getting any lessons since teachers were on strike.

Magwegwe legislator Anele Ndebele wanted to know whether education was now a privilege because pupils at private schools were getting lessons while those at government schools were not.

Murwira said it was the responsibility of everyone to make sure that pupils received education and not just that of the government.

“A nation is its people.  It is not you, you and you but us.  So when it comes to the education of our children, it is the responsibility of all and sundry, especially the adults, professionals and all the citizens who are responsible for the education of its children,” Murwira said.

“It is from that point of view that we are saying we are asserting the importance of access to free education and progressively so.  Also, that we know there are exams that have to be written.”

Pupils are due to writ examinations next month but teachers have been on strike demanding salary adjustments of at least US$520 a month or the equivalent in local currency.

The talks are deadlocked and teachers’ unions themselves do not seem to agree on the way forward.

Speaker of Parliament Jacob Mudenda asked Murwira to advise Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema to make a comprehensive statement next week.

Below is the full debate on the issue yesterday:

HON. NDEBELE:  Hon. Speaker, I presume, the Hon. Minister Murwira is the Leader of Government Business.  So, I will direct my question to him.  Is it Government policy that education is now a privilege and not a right considering that only those students in private schools are ready for examinations and those in public schools are not, owing to the industrial action by their teachers and the COVID-19 lockdown.

HON. PROF. MURWIRA:  I wish to thank Hon. Ndebele for the question on whether access to education is now a privilege or a right. He is asking specifically on the issue of primary and secondary education and the said industrial action by members of staff, especially in the public sector.  The policy is very clear.  Government policy is non discriminatory when it comes to access to education.  However, there are certain circumstances that militate against access to this right, but when it comes to government policy, it is very clear.  That is why government is trying its best to make sure that there is harmony in that sector that people begin to negotiate and begin to put the interests of the students upfront when it comes to access to education.  I think it is a matter of making sure that we put the interests of our pupils upfront and ensure they have access to that education, but it is a process and we believe that process is taking place.  I thank you.

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The Insider

The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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