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Schools should be spared political activity

Politics
THE Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) and children’s rights activists have castigated the use of schools as political campaign venues, saying it contravenes the Constitution.

THE Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) and children’s rights activists have castigated the use of schools as political campaign venues, saying it contravenes the Constitution.

REPORT BY VENERANDA LANGA

Justice for Children Trust programmes director Caleb Mutandwa said he had received reports that children lost learning time while cleaning up the mess left by thousands of people after rallies were held at their schools.

“Holding political rallies at schools violates children’s rights, including Section 81 of the new Constitution which says children should not be forced to attend rallies or any political activities,” said Mutandwa.

“I got reports that after attending a rally at a certain school, the following day children spent time cleaning up the mess at the school.”

Mutandwa called upon politicians to promote and uphold children’s rights during their campaigns as enshrined in the Constitution.

Zimta chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said while several activities would naturally give way to elections, it was not right that the school term be interfered with.

“Schools have become the nerve centres for use by political parties and that compels education officials to alter time tables. The result is that schools are going to be stampeded into exams and teachers and children are under high pressure,” Ndlovu said.

Ndlovu said schools should be apolitical venues and once a political party used them to hold rallies, the result was that the school might be associated with that party.

“We cannot really say the closure of schools one week earlier is unwarranted because elections are important events of governance and even the education sector is affected.

“However, we want people to desist from forcing schoolchildren to participate in their political events,” he said.

Ndlovu said there was nothing wrong with conscientising children to politics as it was included in their social studies syllabus.

As a result of the July 31 poll, schools will close on July 26 instead of August 8 as initially planned.