Latwell Nyangu, H-Metro Reporter
Educationists have welcomed the Education Act Amendment which was passed by Parliament and approved by President Mnangagwa.
The Act means State schools can no longer exclude girls who fall pregnant from attending lessons, while teachers will not be allowed to cane pupils.
Pupils will also be spared from being send home over unpaid school fees.
Mixed feelings were expressed over the Act with some taking it as progressive as it will help in balancing gender disparity while others say it’s a time bomb for the education sector.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) Secretary General Raymond Majongwe said:
“This might create a time bomb for us, we have certain values that we must respect and why do we want to protect the minority against the majority.
“Several children will now think it’s normal to be pregnant, why are we taking the abnormal and make it normal.
“South Africa is crying because of the relaxation of the education laws.”
Majongwe said corporal punishment, should still remain as it help in disciplining the learners.
“The removal of corporal punishment will see a lot of violence in schools, absconding, misbehaving
“Discipline is necessary for good upbringing and we are not advocating for brutality in schools but biblically its said spare the rod and spoil the child.
“We will abide by the laws which has been put in place,” he added.
Similar sentiments were echoed by the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), Richard Gundane who said:
“These issues are close to our hearts, the act sought to address the issue and what we see now, is trying to close the gap.
“Learners have the right to education, it’s in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) number 4.
“Everyone must have a fair chance to learn and this has already been implemented, it is in the interest of the country
“In the past, a boy would impregnate a girl and he would continue with his education while the girl child dropped.
“So to gender activism, this is an achievement, both children should be allowed to complete school.”
On corporal punishment, Gundane said:
“What those children are exposed is what they will give back to you and when you beat, you are cultivating a culture of violence but there is need for an environment free from beatings.
“We want to create a child friendly environment and this is why we endorsed this act.
“We also advocate for quality education, learners are supposed to be disciplined but not beaten,” he said.
Gundane proposed that schools, parents and the Ministry should find ways to address the issue.
“There is need for special services, including counselling, psychology and there is need to teach learners to abstain from sex so that child marriages are avoided.
“Majority cases where girls end up being pregnant, is because the parents were not there to protect, the child, the school also failed.
“The child has the right to be protected.
“Some of them are victims of rape although some get pregnancy through promiscuity but they deserve a second chance.
“The schools and ministry should work on policies which needs consultations with learners and parents
“The learners would be assisted so that there will be no stigmatisation, bullying, embarrassment on the victims,” said Gundane.