Education minister David Coltart has acknowledged the increase in cases of teachers sexually harassing students in government schools and has written to the permanent secretary in his ministry to start investigating such cases and bring culprits to book.
In a letter dated December 14, Coltart said the continued harassment of pupils in government schools was worrying and “affecting the education of innocent children”.
The letter was in response to one written by an official from Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) alleging an increase in cases of rape and sexual harassment of students.
“You will note the letter reveals what seems to be a deep-seated problem of teachers sexually harassing their students. This unfortunately is now affecting the education of innocent children,” Coltart said.
“Could you, therefore, as a matter of urgency ask the provincial education director responsible for Murehwa to investigate this matter and report back to you and please let me have a report regarding the matter?” TIZ had written to Coltart alleging that teachers at Chimhau Secondary School were allegedly abusing pupils.
The letter was written by Annatolia Chimunye of TZI.
Last week, Titus Gwemende, head of programmes with the organisation, said Chimhau case was a tip of the iceberg as his office had several cases of abuse of pupils.
“There are teachers at the school who are abusing pupils. Others have come up to report the cases but others are not because of fear,” he said.
“One of the victims is pregnant and was forced to leave the school,” Gwemende said.
“We decided to approach the ministry to take action. There are serious cases of abuse in schools, but those who are supposed to be taking action are doing nothing,” he said.
“In rural schools, it is difficult for pupils to have access to report such cases so we applaud minister Coltart’s stance to investigate the matter.”
Cases of headmasters and teachers harassing and sexually abusing pupils are reportedly on the high with a recent one of a Chikwezvero Primary School headmaster in the dock for allegedly sodomising and raping more than 13 pupils.
The headmaster is currently out on bail.