Zig zag fashion: Zimbabwe education in discord

Charles Mabhena

This year will go down in the country’s history book as the year the Zimbabwean education system took a complete turn with far reaching implications.

Yesterday Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora hosted fellow ministers and parliamentarians at the Harare International Conference Centre, to explain his now much hated new curriculum, whom even his learned colleagues, are viewing with suspicious lenses.

For some time, Dokora has been sweating to explain his new move to many, leaving them stuck as to which is which, some thinking it could be a good policy that has not been well sold to stakeholders, yet others still convinced that the minister would be up to no good at all.

This stand-off led the Parliament of Zimbabwe to direct him to host a workshop to educate his fellow parliamentarians on the new curriculum.

While this is the main story on many citizens’ mouths at the moment, there is another shocker in the system that also will leave a lasting impact to the sector. High Court Judge David Mangota recently ruled out the corporal punishment at school or at home, saying that the canning of school children was a form of violence against them.

Following the ruling prominent lawyer and PDP leader, Tendai Biti who represented the applicant said he was happy with the ruling.

He said he and his clients were delighted with the ruling, and that a lot of children were being injured by their teachers, adding that it is now up to the government to separate discipline from assault.

However, some analysts have criticised the ruling saying it has a potential of bringing children who are wayward. They say without some form of discipline, it would bring up children who take any efforts to redirect them into line as abuse, and may threaten their parents with arrest.

While abuse cannot be condoned at all cost, social commentators believe children just need to be disciplined. Some believe the matter must be taken to the Constitutional Court.

A columnist with a local weekly and social scientist, Ken Mafuka, recently indicated that though one should not argue with a judge he sought the judge’s indulgence and grace on the matter.

“I hope the Constitutional Court will in its wisdom place restrictions rather than abolish a practice that has saved many boys from hell,” he noted.

Meanwhile, in 2015, another identical ruling was made, where Judge Esther Muremba ruled that the sentencing of juveniles to canning, corporal punishment at school and home were unconstitutional.

This was later shot down by the Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba who said the court had gone out of its way in that ruling, as the issue tabled before it was only pertaining to the sentencing of under-age offenders to stokes of cane by the courts.

This left the debate wide open, with the key note being that beating of children at schools and home as a disciplinary measure was permissible.