Education Bill at Second Reading stage

by VENERANDA LANGA

THE Education Amendment Bill went through its Second Reading stage in the National Assembly on Tuesday, with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) accused of refusing to air a programme on the Bill because the parliamentary committee leading the process was headed by an opposition legislator.

The Second Reading Stage was introduced in the House by Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Edgar Moyo who said among that other things, the Bill would ensure that it is compulsory for parents to send children to primary school and that there shall not be discrimination on grounds of colour, religion or political affiliation.

Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio on Education, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC-T) alleged that ZBC was throwing spanners into attempts to teach
people about the Bill because it was going to feature an opposition MP.

“I am disappointed with ZBC because we spoke to Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, running a programme called Identities to feature a programme with the committee on the
Education Amendment Bill,” she said.

“But the programme was blocked because a ZBC official said it was politically incorrect to air a programme which features someone from the opposition.

“They said they can only air the programme on the basis that Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima was part of the programme and yet it is not
the prerogative of the Executive to speak on Bills being dealt with in Parliament.”

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said it was important that government ensures that sanitary wear is offered freely at schools.

Her point was supported by Norton MP Temba Mliswa (independent) who said: “There must not even be debate on the issue of sanitary wear. In the same way we find
condoms in toilets, sanitary wear should also be there. We cannot allow the girl child to feel less (human) because they are using socks, tissue or crowding.”

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said during public hearings on the Bill people shot down proposals to allow pregnant girls to continue attending class.

“However, the issue is that these girls get pregnant by older men and if we stop them from attending school they won’t be empowered. Education in this country
is not well-funded and so we need to create a new Education Finance Bill so that there is funding for education in the country. We need to say that everyone
driving a luxury vehicle should be charged carbon tax so that it finances education for poor children,” she said.

Bikita South MP Josiah Sithole (Zanu PF) said there was need to sympathise with pregnant girls so that they continue with class. “In 1999, there was a
statutory instrument which stipulated that pregnant girls can stay at school. We need to sympathise with these girls – after all some are raped, impregnated
by older people like us and so we need to sympathise with pregnant girls,” Sithole said.

Zvimba North MP Marian Chombo (Zanu PF) said in Insiza mostly females said pregnant girls must not be allowed to continue with class.

“One woman even said what if the pregnant girl begins vomiting in class. They said it will encourage other girls to fall pregnant,” Chombo said.

Kadoma Central MP Muchineripi Chinyanganya (MDC Alliance) said there is need to come up with funding mechanism for education which will include non-
governmental organisations.

Meanwhile, MPs observed a minute of silence in remembrance of the late Glen View South MP Vimbai Tsvangirai-Java (MDC Alliance) who died on Monday.

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