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National service from crèche

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The Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment plans to introduce national service training starting from preschool, NewsDay has learnt.

The first enrolment is to start next month and is broken down into three semesters after which students graduate in December.

A concept paper leaked to NewsDay this week revealed that the ministry, headed by Savior Kasukuwere, would craft legislation which will pave way for the establishment of the National Youth Service implementing agency with an autonomous status by 2013.

However, the paper said presently the implementation would be done by a directorate which is supervised by the ministry.

According to the ministry’s draft concept paper, the initiative is meant to “train 300 000 people from pre-school going age and those in and out of school, colleges and universities under the age of 35 annually”.

The 48-page document says the ministry would use its staff from head office, provincial, district and ward youth officers under the Department of Youth Development to reach out to schools, churches, clubs and communities.

In pre-schools, the education would be centred on the national flag, national anthem, cultural dances and role plays while primary schools would cover the “liberation struggle and legacy”, physical fitness, the role of youth in peace and national development.

In secondary schools the students are expected to continue physical fitness training, conflict, provision of external facilitation, case studies and role plays and debates.

“The schools programme will be designed with the participation of school authorities so as to include this programme as an extra-curricular activity. The schools will provide time in their daily timetables,” reads the paper.

The concept paper says at the end of the training programme, the youth should be among other things, able to “explain the history of Zimbabwe from pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial era; identify with national values of tolerance, discipline, respect and patriotism”.

For tertiary institutions, the paper said the ministry had established links with some universities to teach youth development programmes.

“The National Youth Service training is more on the practical side hence training shall start at 5am with physical training up to 10am and orientation lessons and discussions start at 10.30am and production work as from 2pm to 5pm while extra-curricular work, including entertainment, from 6-8pm every day,” read the paper.

The paper went on to say identification of visiting facilitators would be done in accordance with specialised areas.

“The evolution of the Zimbabwe political systems is better articulated by people who are involved in the struggle for the establishment of the Zimbabwean independence so as to articulate grievances, strategies and linkages . . . ,” reads the paper.

The National Youth Service uniform would have a set for both ceremonial and operations whose badge would have a hoe for male youths to symbolise their commitment to agriculture and a pot on those of the female youth to symbolise the programme’s efforts in youth for gender mainstreaming.

Other features include an AK rifle, “to keep the youth protecting gains of the liberation struggle as a result of the sacrifice by thousands of gallant sons and daughters in the fight against colonialism and racial discrimination, and the need to accept, cherish and recognise the significance of that liberation struggle as the foundation of our sovereign independence, freedoms and human rights.”

Efforts to get a comment from Kasukuwere were fruitless on Friday as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Analysts say the development was a ploy by Zanu PF to brainwash the population from a tender age.

The youth training centres, dubbed “Border Gezi” institutes, were infamous for producing a crop of youths known as “green bombers” who were accused of unleashing violence on innocent civilians.

It is suspected they are being re-invented in preparation for possible elections before the end of the year.

“National service in the proper context like happens in the Botswana national service is a good thing.
However Zimbabwe is a different story because the training is meant to brainwash youths to perpetrate violence against fellow youths and the elderly,” said Dumisani Nkomo, a civic activist.

“We need to consult with other stakeholders and come up with a youth training service with a framework for Zimbabwe. Presently it is used for political ends by some parties. We want the initiative to be discussed in a non-election period.”

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