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Every Child in School campaign launched in Harare

Tali founder and director Nyaradzo Mashayamombe (right) and Zimbabwe Council for the Welfare of Children national director Taylor Nyanhete .

Tali founder and director Nyaradzo Mashayamombe (right) and Zimbabwe Council for the Welfare of Children national director Taylor Nyanhete .

TAG a Life International (TaLI), a girls and young women’s rights organization has petitioned the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to allow thousands of underprivileged children into schools without paying full fees at the beginning of the first term in 2018.

Tali says education was a basic child right which government should respect , urging school authorities to desist from depriving underprivileged children of this right.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign and petition last week Tali, director Nyaradzo Mashayamombe said her organization was petitioning the Ministry to release a circular that orders all school heads to allow children into school.

“The Minister of Primary and Secondary School to immediately release a circular to instruct all public primary schools to accept enrolment of all primary level children who ordinarily are unable to pay their schools fees. This applies to children who have spent time out of school whether for a term or a number of years,” said Mashayamombe.

Mashayamombe said government had relegated education responsibility to struggling parents.

“Many have been kept out of school due to the inability by parents or guardians to pay the required school fees when they are looking for places to enrol their children. We are asking the Minister of education to release a circular to this effect immediately so that those children who are out of primary school because they could not pay the required school fees can be given places in public schools and not be discriminated against because they cannot pay,” said Mashayamombe.

Tali in partnership with Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC), Women’s Coalition of Zimbabwe (WCoZ), Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe (FAWEZI), Mambure Trust, Research Advocacy Unit (RAU), Higher Life Foundation(HLF), Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI), Justice for Children’s Trust (JCT), Katswe Sisterhood, World Vision Zimbabwe, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), Issues Pane Nyaya, UDACIZA among other social movements has been advocating for education for all in the country.

Mashayamombe said launching the Every Child in School campaign was in line with the country’s new trajectory as espoused by President Emmerson Mnangagwa who in his inaugaural speech underscored the need to strengthen national institutions and human security from illiteracy.

She said Zimbabwe risked breeding an uneducated generation hence the need for the Every Child in School Campaign.

“We risk having a whole generation of uneducated people owing to the deterioration of the education system and the inaccessibility to free education in this current dispensation, a situation which is against the human rights of children,” said Mashayamombe.

The Zimbabwean Constitution which, in section 75(a), stipulates that the State must take all practical measures to promote a basic-state funded and compulsory education for children. The State is also expected “to take reasonable legislation and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive realisation of the right set out”

“We however note that it remains a fundamental and un-negotiated right for all these children who are out of school to be given a chance at education, just like those who are within the schools are protected by existing policies. The state has left this responsibility to the evidently struggling parents and guardians who constitute the the majority of the unemployed population in Zimbabwe,” added Mashayamombe.

According to research, more than a million school age children are at the risk of either dropping out of school or not enrolling at all, 6, 6 percent of primary and 20,6 percent of secondary school children were not in school in 2014.

According to the Child labour Survey 2014, 68 percentof these children failed to enrol in school due to financial reasons leading to 23,3 percent failing to complete primary education, whilst 58 percent were just demotivated to enrol.

Most government programmes on education have failed to cater the generality of pupils in Zimbabwe.

“The platform acknowledges that Zimbabwean government has been facilitating state-funded education in accordance to its mandate in the Education policy, however many children have failed to access it, and on record, more than 350 000 pupils failed to access facilities such as BEAM owing to bureaucratic incompetence,” Tali said.

Tali says that a large investment in education fundamental in curbing poverty and under-development.

The Every Child in School Campaign argues for basic free compulsory education.

“All primary children should be enrolled in school beginning of January regardless of financial capabilities, disabilities, sex, race, and that all children must be able to access primary education without discrimination,” Mashayamombe said.

Tali is also advocating for those primary school children who have dropped out due to lack of school fees.