By Pretty Chavango
The country’s legislators have been called upon to use their power to make sure government delivers on its mandate to ensure every child is in school as provided in the constitution.
Under the banner of an initiative called “Every Child in School” (ECIS) being led by Tag a Life International, MPs are being urged to use their legislative power to ensure all public primary schools accommodate vulnerable children whose parents cannot pay school fees.
Each time schools open, it has become a norm to see young children making their way back home early after being sent away for not paying their school fees.
According to the ECIS campaign, sending children away from school is a violation of children’s rights as Section 75 (a) of the constitution provides calls for the government to provide free compulsory basic education.
In a statement, Tag a Life International called on the legislators to support its campaign.
“Parliamentarians, being invested with legislative powers in terms of Section 116 as read with Section 134 of the Constitution are hereby being called upon to give full support to the ECIS Campaign…
“…the campaign has asked the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to immediately release a circular that will instruct all school authorities in public primary schools to allow children whose parents cannot pay for school fees to be accepted into schools.
“The current dilemma is that children who dropped out of school for one reason or the other or are moving from one place to another looking for enrolment places are not being accepted into schools unless their parents pay school fees to which many cannot afford the small amounts required due to poverty.
“The platform reminds the Parliamentarians and Zimbabweans that; according to research, every year, more than a million school-age children are at risk of either dropping out of school or not enrolling at all,” read the statement.
Tag a Life International added that about 6.6 percent of primary and 20.6 of secondary school children were not in school in 2014 (Child Labour Survey 2014), and 68 percent of these children failed to enroll in school due to financial reasons leading to 23.3 percent failing to complete primary education whilst 58 percent were just demotivated to enroll, probably due to the same reasons (MoPSE Education Sector Strategic Plan 2016-2020).
The government has however been hiding through a clause in the constitution which states that “where resources are available”. This clause has seen government ignoring a lot of social service policies.