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NATIONAL ASSEMBLY HANSARD 25 FEBRUARY 2021 VOL 47 NO 26

 

PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE

Thursday, 25th February, 2021

The National Assembly met at a Quarter-past Two O’clock p.m.

PRAYERS

(THE HON. SPEAKER in the Chair)

    *HON. TEKESHE:  Thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir.  My

point of privilege pertains to people who attend funerals.  Yesterday we were attending a funeral in Rusape and there was discussion between the deceased’s relatives and Ministry of Health and Child Care officials.

The issue is that a number of people are attending funerals instead of the regulated figures, for example the recent funeral for Soldier Love, an artist who died recently and may his soul rest in peace.  It seems there is selective application of the law because when a popular figure passes on, a number of people attend but the regulations only apply for ordinary people as they are a bit stringent.  So my question is on the application of law for particular individuals.  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  It is a point of national interest. Surely, you will have done justice to yourself Hon. Tekeshe, if you ask this during Question Time so that the relevant Minister can explain why certain funerals are allowed to have more people while others are not and you will have a better response from the Minister concerned.

*HON. TEKESHE: Thank you Hon. Speaker.  I would be

grateful if you allow me to pose the question next week.

*THE HON. SPEAKER:  I most certainly will do so.

HON. BITI:  Hon. Speaker, every day we pray through you – we love that prayer but that prayer Hon. Speaker, has a problem…

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Is a what?

HON. BITI:  Parliament’s prayer, it refers to the just Government of men.  Hon. Speaker, in view of the provisions of the Constitution which empowers gender equality, that phrase is wrong.  It must refer to the just Government of men and women.

So I pray Hon. Speaker, with great respect, that Parliament’s archaic, patriarchal prayer be revisited so that it recognises that we are now in the 21st century where men and women are equal.  It must refer to the just Government of men and women, even children.  I thank you very much Hon. Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  I think some two years ago, I raised the issue in the Committee of Standing Rules and Orders that we should insert women as well.  The interpretation of the majority of the members was that men also can include women.  You know this democracy of the majority sometimes can be cancerous, so I lost.  I think, instead of raising it here perhaps you could raise it under a motion for debate then whatever the House resolves, that will overrule the Committee on Standing Rules and Orders.

I totally agree with you and I saw at the time no harm to say, ‘men and women’ to be more inclusive.

(V)HON. MUCHIMWE:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir. I would like to applaud you and your administration for the good work that you did on our parliamentary diaries.  We are now guided on the Sitting Days and Budget consultation days.  Thank you for the good work Mr.

Speaker Sir.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you very much for your commendations.

(V)HON. MUSHORIWA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir.  Mr.

Speaker, my point of privilege relates to the Budget that we recently passed. One of the issues on the parliamentary budget that the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development agreed to was the inclusion of $200 million towards the Constituency Development Fund. We are now approaching the first quarter of the year but we have not yet received anything in terms of the allocation.

We implore you Mr. Speaker Sir, to help us to run these constituencies.  I thank you.

THE HON. SPEAKER:  Thank you very much Hon. Mushoriwa. The Committee on Standing Rules and Orders met some 10 days ago and we have been assured by the Hon. Minister of Finance and Economic Development that funds are being put together to start rolling out those funds for constituency centres so that the Members of

Parliament are able to communicate with their various constituents.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI: I move that Orders of the Day, Numbers 1 to

10 be stood over until Order of the Day Number 11 has been disposed

HON. MPARIWA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PRIMARY AND

SECONDARY EDUCATION ON FIELD VISITS CONDUCTED TO

SELECTED SCHOOLS

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: I move the motion

standing in my name that this House takes note of the Report of the

Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education on the field visits conducted to selected schools to check compliance with COVID19 regulations and the state of preparedness for November 2020 examinations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

HON. MADHUKU: I second.

HON. MISIHAIRABWI-MUSHONGA: Mr. Speaker, I move

this motion which is a Committee report of the field visits that we did to check compliance with COVID19 and state of preparedness for

October/November examinations in public schools. I am happy Mr.

Speaker that as I move this particular motion and speak to this report, Government is in the process of beginning to plan ways of opening schools and I am sure both parents and everybody else is looking to the opening of schools but as we have always said as a Committee, those schools need to be opened up safely both for the teachers and students.

1.0 Introduction

The Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education conducted field visits to public schools in rural communities to check compliance with COVID-19 regulations and establish the state of preparedness for the 2020 November Examinations in light of COVID19 global pandemic. The report builds up from the two reports tabled by the Committee during the Second Session in the august House on the state of preparedness to opening schools in light of COVID-19. The assessment of the state of preparedness was based on the Standard

Operating Procedures (SOP) guidelines (Annex 1) developed by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for the phased approach to re-opening of schools. The Committee comprised of two (2) teams covering the country’s 8 provinces with one team covering the Northern Region while the other team covered the Southern Region between 30 November, 2020 and 4 Decembe,r 2020. The Committee had meetings with the school administration, School Development Council, Ministry Officials, learners and parents culminating into this comprehensive report. Generally, a high state of preparedness for COVID-19 pandemic was noted with most schools in the Matabeleland and Bulawayo

Provinces, while the opposite was witnessed in the Southern region.

2.0 Terms of Reference

2.1 To check compliance with the Standard Operating Procedures issued by the Ministry in public schools in light of COVID-19 global pandemic.

2.2 To check state of preparedness for October/November

Examinations in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic

2.3 To assess the extent to which Government is supporting menstrual hygiene management among the rural school’ girls.

           3.0  Methodology

The Committee held several oral evidence sessions with various stakeholders including, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary

Education, Teachers’ Unions, Children’s Parliament and Civil Society Organisations and resolved to conduct field visits to public schools in rural communities. The Committee felt that it was critical to go on the ground to verify information that has been gathered during the numerous oral evidence sessions and workshops that have taken place during the course of the year. Thus, the Committee was split into two groups so as to target a wider sample size. However, given the time limitation and distances involved, the Committee was only able to cover

8 Provinces, namely; Masvingo, Manicaland, Mashonaland East,

Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Matabeleland North,

Matabeleland South and Bulawayo.

Below is a list of the schools visited by the Committee  

TEAM A (Southern Region) TEAM B (Northern Region) 
Matiore Primary and Mukore High (Bikita) Sitezi Primary and Secondary (Gwanda)
Mashonjowa Primary and Mandarume  Secondary (Chimanimani) Mhali Primary and Magwegwe High  (Bulawayo)
Bosbury Primary (Chegutu) Zibhungululu Primary and Secondary  (Tsholotsho)
Bondamakare Primary and Secondary  (Mutoko) Fudu Primary (Nkayi)
Mupandira Primary School (Madziva) Nyongolo Primary (Hwange)

 

4.0 Committee Findings

4.1 Water and Sanitation

The Committee established that the issues of water and sanitation were legacy issues haunting the education sector and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation. The bulk of the schools in Zimbabwe are facing acute water and sanitation challenges. However, some schools had boreholes within the school (For example,  Mukore High School, Masvingo) while others had to travel like 1.5km to fetch water for use in the school. The learners from the schools facing water challenges had to fetch water from unclean water sources after school while others fetch water during learning time. Some schools in

Manicaland had benefited from donations from World Vision and Plan

International. Mhandarume High School and Mashonjowe Primary School received water tanks and tapped water buckets. An extreme case was recorded in Matebeleland, at Sitezi Primary and Secondary Schools which did not have any boreholes and learners had to bring their own water from Tuli River which is quite a distance from the school. This in effect has a negative impact on the well-being of the learners as well as the school’s ability to fully function especially with the current global pandemic. Magwegwe High School in Bulawayo is also faced with serious water issues as the local borehole water is unfit for consumption.

Therefore, considering the population density of most schools, the challenges of water and sanitation makes it difficult to meet the high levels of hygiene required under WHO guidelines.

          4.2 Face Masks/ Shields

Most schools received Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) from the Ministry for both the teachers and the learners although in most cases there were limited supplies. Schools in the Southern region, particularly in Masvingo, Mashonaland West and Manicaland provinces received masks that were not corresponding with the number of learners hence ended up asking parents to support their children. Bosbury Primary School received 264 masks against a total number of about 700 learners. Some schools like Mhandarume High School through its SDC invested in sewing the masks for the learners and teachers while others got donations from UNICEF. (Bosbury Primary School). Schools in the northern region received adequate masks from the Ministry as witnessed by most pupils, at both Primary and Secondary level having similar washable face masks. The Committee was informed that the

Government, through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education provided between 2 to 3 masks per learner. The only exception noted was that of Magwegwe High School where some of the students for the second phase reopening had not received face masks and were using those provided from home. In addition, at Nyongolo Primary, the Hwange District Inspector indicated that there were more than enough masks at the district offices.  However, some schools had not collected additional portions due to transport challenges and the industrial action.

          4.3 Check/ Screening Points

All schools visited had at least a check or screening point for suspected COVID-19 learners and visitors by the entrance of the school. From both regions, it was observed that the Government, together with development partners, had tried to mobilise resources and provided some stocks of alcohol-based hand-sanitizers and hand washing detergents to all the schools visited. However, the stocks received were inadequate to cover the whole term. School health coordinators bemoaned inadequate resources like sanitisers, hand washing liquid, masks, gloves, gowns and thermometers especially for schools with a large number of learners. Most schools reported that the stocks were fast running out while others were improvising. Some schools resorted to hand washing stations at entry points where sanitisers where not available.

In addition to that, there was widespread evidence of visitor information data capturing upon entry at most schools, save for a few. The information was recorded in exercise books including the temperature. However, at some schools like Mhandarume High School, Bondamakare Primary and Secondary School, the learners confessed that they have only seen sanitisers and check points in the school on the day the Committee visited, probably to appease the Committee. The Standard Operating Procedures indicated that one (1) thermometer was to cover an average of 250 – 500 pupils, hence schools in Matabeleland South and North can be confidentially said they had enough thermometers. Students at Magwegwe High indicated that they were only checked temperature once at the main entrance.

          4.4 Isolation/ Holding Bays

The Committee found out that most schools had challenges with creating isolation or holding bays within the school premises due to the acute shortage of classrooms. School authorities revealed that most holding bays were some kind of classrooms or staff rooms which would be converted at the point of need. Most holding bays were empty, signifying a major resource constraint within the schools to be able to set aside mattresses and some first aid kits. For example, at Bandamakare Primary School, the holding bay only had 2 mattresses and nothing else. At Mhandarume High School, the holding bay was the school boardroom, which would be converted when need arise. Zibungululu Primary and Secondary had an isolation centre which was basically a classroom equipped with a first aid kit and nothing else.

          4.5 Social / Physical Distancing

Most schools devised ways and means of accommodating learners during this COVID-19 pandemic. All schools visited had successfully observed social distancing as evidenced by the arranged furniture, which took into account the Ministry Guideline. However, due to resource limitations, there were no ‘physical distance markings’ in the form of

‘marked lines.’ The major challenge emerging from the requirements of maintaining social distancing was that of inadequate furniture and classrooms to accommodate all the learners at one goal. Thus, most schools developed timetables that would ensure that all examination classes attended classes every day while the rest of the learners would alternate depending with classrooms available. At Bondamakare Primary School, learners from examination classes were coming to school every day, while the rest of the learners were coming one day per week since they had to share classrooms and furniture. In some instances, desk sharing was evident making it a challenge to practice social distancing. This is so because, even before the pandemic, these schools were already facing shortage of furniture and this was then further compounded by the social distancing requirement. Generally, the Committee noted that schools in Matebeleland were able to observe social distances and this can be attributed to low enrolment.  For instance, Sitezi Primary and Secondary had an average of 20 people sitting for 2020 November examinations and the same can be said for Nyongolo Primary and Fudu Primary. However, the same cannot be said of Magwegwe Secondary and Mhali Primary in Bulawayo Metropolitan that had resorted to staggering classes, with classes rotating on days to come to schools.

          4.6 Hand Washing Stations

Most schools had in place hand washing stations at convenient places within the school premises. While most rural schools do not have tapped water, at least most of the schools tried to improvise hand washing stations by investing in “Chigubhu gear” as part of meeting hygiene standards. The “sigubu gear” innovation appeared very popular across Matebeleland schools as it was observed at Sitezi, Zhibhungululu, Fudu and Nyongolo. The ‘sigubu gear’ was also assembled throughout the school yard, hence ensuring that pupils and visitors manage to wash their hands constantly. Schools in Manicaland had benefited immensely from World Vision which donated 1000l water tank, sanitisers, tapped hand washing buckets and soap at Mhandarume High School.  However, most schools such as Mashonjowa Primary School and Bosbury Primary and Secondary School did not have adequate supplies of soap and detergents for use by the learners to wash their hands. The implementation of hand washing stations was also affected by the unavailability of water within the schools. Hence, learners had to bring their own water from home or travel long distances to fetch the water to use with the “Chigubhu giya”. Mhali Primary and Magwegwe High face an acute water challenge and this had a bearing on the capacity of students to wash hands constantly. At Magwegwe High, the Committee was informed that the school rarely receive water from Bulawayo Council.  In addition the available underground water was unfit for human consumption because the school was situated on a sewage perimeter.

          4.7 School Health Coordinators

The Committee found out that most schools had School Health

Coordinators trained by the Ministry of Health and Child Care to handle

COVID-19 cases within the school. However, the major challenge related to inadequate PPEs for the health coordinators to use in the event of an incidence. It was revealed that most of the schools only had masks or face shields for the officials while gowns and protective gloves were not available in almost every school.

          4.8  Teacher Turn-Out for Duty  

Of all the schools visited by the Committee in the Northern region, there was a good teacher turnout of between 95-100%, while in the Southern region, teacher turn-out was very poor. The Committee found out that teachers from Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Central were not reporting for duty and school work was last given in March, 2020 before schools closed. In Matabeleland, the Committee observed that only teachers from Nyongolo Primary School were not reporting for duty while the rest of the schools had teachers in attendance. However, earnest business started on 23 November 2020, barely a week before ZIMSEC examinations commenced. The learners indicated that no learning had taken place prior to 23rd November as the teachers were on industrial strike. Most School Heads admitted that most of the teaching staff had not been teaching at all until after the 23rd of November 2020.

At Fudu Primary, Nkayi the Committee was informed that 8 teachers were sharing one house, indicating the seriousness of unavailability of accommodation.

In addition, there was no network coverage, hence many teachers always transfer to other areas with better facilities. In addition, at both Fudu Primary and Zibungululu Secondary, Teachers complained that they were being paid in local currency (RTGS), whilst the local business community shy the currency in favour of South African Rands or the USD. Unavailability of transport was also regarded as another impediment.  When available, the Commuters demanded payment in foreign currency. Teachers at Bondamakare Primary and Secondary

Schools and Bosbury Primary School also noted that they travel from Mutoko Centre and Chegutu Town to their respective schools every working day and yet they cannot benefit from cheap and affordable transport like ZUPCO busses.

         4.9 Students’ Preparedness for Examinations.

The Committee sought the views of learners, teachers, and parents on the state of preparedness for learners to sit for their final examinations. The outcome of the interaction brought some divergent views amongst the participants. The majority of learners from the Northern region, Sitezi, Singeni, Zibhungululu, Nyongolo, Magwegwe and Mhali) indicated that they were ready to sit for the examinations in spite of the fact that they had little classroom contact with teachers. Learners from the Southern region were fearful and noted that they were ill-prepared to sit for the examinations given that they had not finished their syllabus (e.g. Mhandarume High School, Bondamakare Primary and Secondary Schools, Mupandira Primary School). However, in sharp contrast to the situation above, parents and teachers across the provinces felt that learners were least prepared for the examinations. Parents questioned the rationale behind the decision to allow learners to sit for examinations when no teaching took place for up to nine months. The parents and teachers had suggested that examinations be postponed similarly to what happened during the Liberation war struggle. The parents indicated that this situation was a waste of their money with guaranteed failure.

4.10  Frequent Disinfection of Schools

The Committee found out that very few schools were strictly following the Ministry guidelines to frequently disinfect school premises as measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. Most school authorities indicated that resource constraints were the major challenge inhibiting schools from undertaking frequent disinfection in their schools.

4.11  Radio & Television Lessons

The Committee found out that the majority of learners in rural schools had no access to either radio or television lessons provided by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. While the programmes were initially targeting both learners in rural and urban setup, only those in urban areas had at least access. However, further interrogation by the Committee revealed that lack of knowledge about the facility, limited access to radio services or cellular networks, lack of gadgets among others were major constraints in some areas like Nkayi,

Tsholotsho, Hwange and Chimanimani. The Committee was informed at Nyongolo Primary, Hwange that the teachers were asked to come to Bulawayo for lesson recordings while in actual fact, there was no network in the area.

4.12  Pregnancy

School Heads and teachers raised concern over the increasing number of learners falling pregnant especially those sitting for ‘O’ and

‘A’ level. It was estimated that the cases had more than doubled and follow ups on these cases had not yielded positive results as parents felt that once a child is pregnant, they have no educational future. This is prevalent in both rural and urban school settings. At Magwegwe High, almost every child that the Committee interacted with knew of a colleague that was pregnant. Teachers indicated that although, they make follow ups and encourage the girls to come to school and write the examinations, a number were reluctant. At Bondamakare High School, about 10 girls got married. At Bosbury Primary School, 2 grade seven pupils got pregnant and dropped out of school. However, some school authorities have been working tirelessly with non-governmental organisations to ensure that the girls return to school, for example, at

Mukore High School, Masvingo.

4.13 Menstrual Health Management.

The Committee established that the programme for sanitary wear distribution to rural schools was available in some schools while in other schools it was not available. However, the Committee found out that some of the sanitary pads supplied by the Government were of poor quality and could not meet menstrual hygiene standards. In addition, the sanitary pads were not in sufficient quantities to meet demand. In Masvingo, at Mukore High School, it was revealed that the school had received panty liners instead of pads, while in Chegutu, at Bosbury High School, the pads received were of poor quality, all from the provincial offices. In certain instances, the kids were not even aware that there were sanitary pads available within the school. In the Northern region, students expressed mixed view, some were aware of the programme at school whilst others were not. Most schools had appointed a senior female teacher to be responsible for distribution of sanitary wear. The sanitary wear availed were disposal.

5.0 Committee Observations

5.1  Water and Sanitation

The Committee observed that the challenge of water and sanitation was not only affecting schools, but was a national problem that required urgent attention given the global pandemic. At school level, the Committee observed that the water challenges were impacting significantly on the well-being of the learners who would fetch the water for use within the schools. In addition, most schools were relying on unclean water sources such as rivers and wells.

5.2  Face Masks/ Shields

The Committee noted Government’s commitment to providing face masks to both teachers and learners during the third term, when schools re-opened. However, there was no equity in distribution of PPEs, as schools in Southern region received few as compared to those in the Northern region. The Committee also observed that teachers deserved both face shields and face masks given the nature of their job. Committee members felt that there was need for teachers, especially those teaching infant school and learners with disability to get face shields which they can use during lessons, since facial expressions are part of the learning techniques used by teachers.

5.3 Check/ Screening Points and Hand Washing Stations

Committee members were impressed by the organised screening points at almost every school gate. However, the Committee was concerned by the unavailability of proper hand washing stations within the schools premises due to resource constraints. It was observed that most hand washing stations had no soaps or hand washing detergents for use by the pupils. Sanitisers and hand washing stations were only available at the school entrance only.

5.4 Isolation/ Holding Bays

The Committee noted with concern the shortage of classrooms, which made it difficult for school authorities to set aside a free room specifically for such a purpose. In most schools, the holding bay was either a school boardroom, staff room or classroom that would be converted when need arise. The Committee also observed that most of the holding bays were not adequately resourced.

5.5 Social / Physical Distancing

Committee members observed that most schools visited had managed to observe social distancing in line with the WHO guidelines. However, the Committee noted that shortage of classrooms and furniture was impacting significantly on hours of learning as the learners have to alternate to come to school. The Committee observed that priority was only being given to examination classes that would go to school every day while the rest of the learners would go to school once or twice a week.

5.6  School Health Coordinators

Committee members noted with concern that most schools had

Health Coordinators who were incapacitated due to resource constraints.

5.7 Teacher Turn-Out for Duty and State of Preparedness for Examinations

The Committee was disturbed that no proper learning took place since schools opened on 28 September 2020 as the teachers were reported to be on industrial action. Thus, the Committee was greatly concerned by the decision to proceed with examinations under such circumstances. The Committee observed that proceeding with examinations presented unfair competition for poor and vulnerable learners in rural areas given that the majority of them did not participate in any online learning. Committee members felt that due to resource constraints as well as connectivity issues, some learners had challenges in learning during the period schools were closed. The Committee further observed that most teachers were also incapacitated to conduct online lessons during the period schools were closed. Therefore, the

Committee felt that learners were not prepared for examinations. The Committee also noted with concern inadequate staff accommodation in most rural schools, thereby compromising the welfare of the teachers.

At Fudu Primary, Nkayi, the Committee observed that seven teachers were sharing a two bedroomed house.

5.8 Radio & Television Lessons

Committee members observed that COVID-19 has further exacerbated the disparities between the rich and the poor. It was observed that the majority of learners, especially in rural remote areas had challenges participating in radio and television lessons due to connectivity issues as well as lack of the requisite gadgets.

          5.9 Pregnancy

The Committee was disturbed by the number of girls dropping out of school due to pregnancy. However, the Committee applauded some School Heads who were committed to supporting such girls to continue with their education.

         5.10 Menstrual Health Management.

Committee applauded the commitment by the Government to support menstrual hygiene management in all schools, particularly targeting the vulnerable rural school girls. However, the Committee observed with concern the lack of coordination of the programme by the Ministry. The members of the Committee were disturbed by the decentralisation of the procurement process to provinces which has manifested itself in the distribution of different products to the schools. The Committee members observed the poor quality of reusable pads distributed to schools (Bosbury Primary and Secondary School) while others received reusable sanitary wear such as pant liners (Mukore High School). In addition to that, the Committee was disturbed that some of the learners confessed ignorance of the availability of sanitary pads in schools and therefore did not have access. The Committee noted with concern that the distribution process of the sanitary wear was not done properly resulting in some schools receiving while others did not receive anything in 2020. In some schools, the learners were benefiting from the donor community and have not received any sanitary wear from

Government.

              5.11 Requests for Payment of School Fees in Foreign Currency 

Interactions with SDA members indicated that parents were being asked to make payments in foreign currency for transportation of examination papers, for example at Sitezi Primary School. In addition, also fees and levies were being paid in foreign currency. The Committee noted with concern that most of the payments in foreign currency were not being receipted or banked since schools are not allowed to collect payments in foreign currency.

                    5.12  Non-Payment of School Fees by Parents/ Guardians

The Committee noted with concern that most parents were refusing to pay school fees arguing that children were not learning. This impacts negatively on the operations of the school, like collection of examination papers from ZIMSEC Centres or procurement of goods and services required by the school.

           6.0  Committee Recommendations

6.1 That there is urgent need for the Government to comprehensively focus on improving the welfare of teachers and adequately equipping them so as to facilitate proper learning in schools before schools open. 

6.2 That the teachers be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccination since they are considered frontline workers in the education sector.

6.3 The Ministry engages with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before schools open for a transitional school mechanism whereby tents are used to create temporary classrooms and ensure that learners have more learning time in school as compared to the status quo whereby some learners had been coming to school once a week.

6.4 That the Government must prioritise the availability of water and sanitation in all schools as measures to ensure compliance with the WHO guidelines before schools open.

6.5 That parents with children who would want to repeat grade seven due to poor performance must be allowed to do so and Government must bear the costs. The Ministry must also facilitate for waivers to allow the children to repeat.

6.6 That an inquiry be undertaken by the Ministry to establish why some schools have been perennially attaining 0% pass rate with or without COVID-19 pandemic and report to Parliament by 30 April

6.7 That the Ministry presents before the august House, the measures being put in place to ensure that all the learners have access to equal learning including online lessons despite their circumstances by 30 April 2021.

6.8 That the Ministry target rural schools with more resources to ensure equity during this 2021 year.

6.9 That in the short term, the Ministry improves access to education by investing in solar radios for distribution to vulnerable learners at either household or community level so that they all have access to radio lessons level by 30 April 2021.

6.10 That in the medium to long term, the Government invests in the requisite infrastructure to enhance online learning and Universities of Science and Technology may spearhead such interventions.

6.11 That the Ministry supports learners with disability with the requisite gadgets for both physical and online learning such as procurement and distribution of gadgets and assistive devices by 30

June 2021.

6.12 That the Ministry centralises procurement of sanitary wear immediately so as to ensure uniformity in the product and also benefit from economies of scale since it is cheaper to procure more (national tender versus provincial tender).

6.13 That the Ministry immediately clarifies on Government’s policy position on payment of fees and other related costs in foreign currency by parents.

6.14 That the Ministry presents to Parliament a plan of action on how issues of pregnant girls should be handled by school authorities before schools open since it is now law.

6.15 That the Ministry undertakes to sensitise Zimbabweans about the new provisions in the Education Amendment Act of 2020 by year end.

HON. MADHUKU: Thank you very much Mr. Speaker Sir for

giving me this opportunity to contribute to this very important motion presented by the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga on schools compliance to opening of schools in view of the COVID pandemic.

Mr. Speaker Sir, let me begin by saying that there is this quotation by Mr. Mandela which says that the power of education extends beyond the development of skills we need for economic success. This therefore means that even when turning to our country Zimbabwe, if we are looking at Vision 2030 propounded by the Government and even the National Development Strategy 1, the success of all these programmes hinges on a sound education.  It is therefore critical that we treat this motion very critically.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I will begin by looking at the issue of water and sanitation in schools as has been debated by the Hon. Chairperson.  There are more boreholes needed in schools if we are going to be very effective in fighting this pandemic.  There are jingles all over in the print and electronic media talking about the need to wash our hands but we cannot achieve this if we do not have enough boreholes, especially in the rural areas.

Mr. Speaker Sir, when this Committee went around, we noticed a very sad scenario whereby some learners were actually leaving their core business of learning in order to go and fetch water for the school and teachers.  If we look at the Constitution or even the Education Act, this is an abuse of learners. They are not supposed to be doing that.  They are supposed to attend their core business of learning but schools are doing this in order for those learners to go ahead with learning.  So it is very critical that even when you look at the Budget which was passed for 2021, a lot has to be done in terms of drilling more boreholes for schools and also go beyond just drilling boreholes but even making some installations of solar so that schools can devote most of their time to learning.

Madam Speaker, the other issue is social distancing in schools, this is a very big problem.  I want to say that we want to thank the Lord. I think he has kept us safe as a country including these learners. We have noticed that it is very difficult for them to be stringent in keeping social distancing and in most cases, we saw that even learners were sharing these face masks but we thank the Lord that they were kept safe.  We also noticed that even in boarding schools, the issue of social distancing was a problem, especially at the hostels because they had already recruited learners when these regulations came into place.  They were trying to make do with what was possible but the issue of infrastructure as alluded to by the Hon. Chairperson remained a nightmare.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, coming to teacher turn-out for work, I

want to begin by applauding our teachers for doing very well under the circumstances.  When we are looking at the pass rate which we are saying fell as compared to the previous one – but I want to thank them because they did their best because when we visited a lot of schools, we saw that most teachers who had examination classes were actually having overtime, teaching even during weekends to ensure that their learners pass.  So we want to thank them very much although we noticed certain cases whereby some teachers were coming to work maybe twice a week.  They said they were paying heed to some of their teachers’ organisations which had said that they were not supposed to go to work from Monday to Friday.

Madam Speaker, I want to say that these teachers are crying for better working conditions.  It is my submission that we go beyond looking at salaries and look at some of the non-monetary things.  This will go a long way in motivating the teachers.  If you look at some of the theories which have been propounded by some psychologists, I always refer to Abraham Maslow with his motivational theories which say that human beings naturally want some of their basic needs satisfied before they can do some of what they are obligated to do.  Among these things, he talks about the fulfillment of physiological needs which is the first one on the hierarchy, followed by safety needs, love and belongingness, esteem needs and self actualisation.

What this basically means is that every human being needs some of his or her basic needs met first before he can do a certain duty.  So this is what the teachers are saying.  They want food, fees for their children, clothing, safety and so on.   I am suggesting here that we look at some non monetary incentives like vouchers, car loans, something to do with health where the Government actually pays some money towards such schemes.  We want a situation whereby if somebody falls ill, the scheme covers everything because it does not help make to say there is a health scheme whereby if somebody falls ill you go to the hospital, you are told there is a shortfall and you are supposed to pay the shortfall in US dollars.  If you go for the drug, the scheme says we cannot pay for the drugs in this category.  So you end up paying for everything yet you are covered under a certain scheme.  It does not make sense.

We need to critically look at some of the needs of these teachers because this will motivate them to carry out their duties.  I have already talked about schemes like paying for loans for their vehicles. We can also look at the tollgate fees or parking fees, those little things which we can accord to the teachers.  These will motivate them to work even harder because we have already seen them working extra hours during weekends to ensure that learners pass.

Madam Speaker Ma’am, let me also look at the issue of the high pregnancy cases in schools.  It is amazing, there are so many girls who have fallen pregnant during this COVID-19 era

   HON. MADHUKU: (Speaking)…during this COVID -19 era and

when we interviewed the heads of schools, we noticed that even primary school kids had fallen pregnant.  This is shocking and the question is what are we going to do with these learners?  Are our teachers, heads of schools and the parents aware that these girls who have fallen pregnant have a right to come back to school?  They need capacitation. We have talked to some of the heads, they do not seem to know what they are supposed to do to enable the learners to come back to school.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should have a record of all the girls who have fallen pregnant and make a follow up to ensure that they go back to school because even our Education Act allows such children to go back to school.  If we do not make a follow up, then it is a lost generation.

Madam Speaker, I also want to talk a little bit about the home grown feeding programme which the Chairperson of Primary and

Secondary Education, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga has talked about.  This is a very good programme of ensuring that every learner is given food at school because some learners have a problem of not getting enough food at home.  The research has shown that there is improved attendance if the learners are given food at both primary and secondary level.  We have also noticed that even in developed countries like Britain, learners are given food at school.

However, we have also realised that whilst the Government is sending food items to schools; these food items are not very well looked after. We have had cases of theft of such food items and there was no trace to recover the food items.  In certain cases we heard the heads of schools saying they did not have relish, hence they were no longer preparing food for the learners.  Therefore, I implore the Government to ensure that whilst they are giving maize meal to schools, it is also important to give relish so that all the learners are not made to pay something for relish.  Where a learner has not managed to pay for the relish, the innocent child is not feeding and will be looking at others feeding because he or she cannot afford to pay for the relish.  So, this is a very good programme which improves attendance but a lot of supervision needs to be done by the Ministry.

Let me conclude by touching a bit on the issue which has been talked about by the Hon. Chairperson with regards to school fees.  It is very critical for the schools to ensure that they follow guidelines in the payment and charging of schools fees.  As has been said by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga, that most schools are not charging fees on a pro rata basis. A lot of schools are just charging fees which have not been approved by the Ministry.

We have also observed that some schools are making parents to pay schools fees in the USD denomination and we have noticed that certain heads are not receipting the fees because they do not have

NOSTRO accounts.  So I think it is very critical for the Minister of

Primary and Secondary Education to ensure that Statutory Instruments and policies are followed up and enforced to ensure that the parents are not made to suffer.

Madam Speaker, I want to thank the Hon. Chairperson of the

Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga for bringing this very important motion on education compliance in view of the COVID-19 pandemic

(V)HON. T. MOYO: Thank you Madam Speaker.  May I thank the Hon. Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary

Education for moving the motion which was also seconded by Hon.

Madhuku.

I participated in the visits where we moved to different schools throughout Zimbabwe to observe compliance and also to assess the schools’ level of preparedness in light of COVID 19.  We observed that in terms of PPE’s, most of the pupils had masks.  I need to applaud the Government that it availed some funds.  However, the funds were not adequate to supply all the students in our schools with PPE’s.  As a result, most of the parents resorted to buying masks for their own children and that culminated in different colours and shapes of masks in the schools.

I also need to applaud the Development Partners who assisted in the provision of PPE’s to compliment Government efforts.  However, we want to encourage the Government to avail enough funds so that all the schools will be provided with adequate PPEs.

Turning to the standard operating procedures which is a document availed by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary which espouse all the requirements which were supposed to be provided as a prerequisite to the opening of schools.

In our observation as a Committee, students and teachers were practicing social distancing.  One way of practicing social distancing in light of the adequate shortages of classrooms and infrastructure was to split classes.  A class of 40 students had to be split into two and that led to students attending two or three days a week which could have also contributed in the low pass rate in the 2020 academic year for Grade

Seven students.

Madam Speaker, as a Committee we also want to encourage the Government to partner with development partners who may contribute to the construction and provision of infrastructure.

On the issue of water and sanitation, most of the schools did not have running water. What was provided was simply a bucket with a tap having running water where water would just ooze out of that bucket.

So we would want to appeal to the Government through District Development Fund to drill boreholes in our schools as a way of alleviating the plight of our students and teachers.

I now want to turn to the issue of electronic gadgets. It is encouraged for students in Zimbabwe to practice e-learning. We were baffled to observe that very few students had these electronic gadget like smart phones, ipads and computers. It is my sincere appeal to Government and development partners to provide those electronic gadgets to our students because they can hardly afford them. As a result, students in the rural areas will still lag behind in terms of academic achievement.

On the issue of sanitary wear, there is a difference between budget allocation and budget disbursements. Government allocated substantial amounts for the purchase of sanitary wear but to my surprise we observed that most of the funds which were allocated or earmarked for purchase of sanitary wear were not used because of bureaucratic bottlenecks in our systems of government. That money until now has not been fully utilised to purchase sanitary wear. As a result, some development partners ended up supplying the sanitary wear, which was not a good thing in light of the fact that Government had provided funds for the purchase of sanitary wear.

Turning to the morale of teachers, it is a fact that the morale of our teachers is very low. They need to be given some incentives. According to theory of motivation as espoused by Bruner whereby teachers need to be motivated to perform their duties properly - but I am not supporting the fact that teachers should not attend to their duties because they will be violating children’s rights to education. Teachers should continue to work hard but Government should play its role to motivate them through salary increments and also providing them with land which can be used as stands for collateral security if they want to borrow some money. Government can also provide hardship allowance to teachers in rural areas. Teachers in rural areas experience a lot of challenges like poor accommodation. They need to be motivated to remain in those rural areas. It is my clarion call that Government should provide hardship allowances as a form of motivating our teachers to work very hard.         Finally, on payment of school fees we want to encourage schools not just to charge fees at their own will but they need to write to the Ministry for approval so that they are given approval letters before they increase fees willy nilly. On that note I want to thank you Madam Speaker for this opportunity.

HON MAVETERA: Thank you Madam Speaker for indulging

  1. I want to thank the mover of the motion Hon Misihairabwi, seconded by Hon Madhuku for such a very important and pertinent report. I thought I should also add my voice and say one or two issues that I think are also important for us going forward.

The first issue that I thought I should be able to highlight is the issue of sanitary wear. When we look at it, I think it is very much important so that we do not repeat such an incident. If ever there are any procurement committees that have to be set, they need to be gender sensitive and we need to be having women so that at least they know that this is what is required for women. For us to have men buying sanitary wear for women, I feel this is what caused a situation whereby we get panty liners instead of sanitary wear. Going forward, I think we need to be gender sensitive or let it be women actually purchasing sanitary so that we do not repeat this.

Let me also highlight one of the issues which was said which I think is very important, the issue of extra lessons. I think we need to look at this in a holistic way. The issue of extra lessons, that is supposed to be a transparent process. The moment that we continue to be hiding it, that is why you see every now and then teachers will be trying to squeeze it in and yet it is not supposed to be the case. Going forward, we need to make this a very transparent issue and even incentivise teachers for it whereby they can actually enroll and take students within their class so that they are incentivised and taken on board rather than for it to be something which is not allowed. The moment that you continue hiding it then people take advantage of it. There will be a manipulation of the system and therefore that is going to be happening.

On the last budget, we really appreciate the measures that the Ministry of Finance took but the issue of banning the importation of  vehicles that are more than 10 years old, as much as it is good for us a country, I feel civil servants will not be able to purchase vehicles that would go in line with the salaries that they get. For them to buy vehicles that are ten years and above what it meant is that they will be able to purchase these vehicles. There is need to put another plan in place that will also incentivise civil servants especially teachers so that they can be able to acquire vehicles. I heard an outcry from civil servants saying that opportunity alone also lessened their ability for them to be possessing cars.

Let me highlight on the issue where the Ministry has to liaise with network providers so that they secure internet connectivity. The reason why we are having a lot of students not being able to access the internet and online lessons is because there is no coordinated approach. What is important is for us to have a coordinated approach when it comes to internet providers whereby they go to the remote areas and they are able to provide for internet connectivity. There is also need for training of teachers. For example the Ministry of Transport introduced a retest for drivers and this is important for teachers because we are moving in a very dynamic environment which has a lot of changes that are happening. It is important for teachers to continue having that training so that they can adapt to what is happening currently.

Madam Speaker, the issue of school fees is also very important.  Why would we not charge on a pro-rata basis?  If you look at it, this has been said a lot but I feel that it is very important if we are going forward for us to make sure that school fees will be charged on a pro-rata basis.  I do not think it will be fair for any parent to be paying for one month but paying the same school fees that they are supposed to be paying for the term.  I believe that it will be important for us to have a fee for online lessons and a fee for physically conducted lessons.  I think that is also good moving forward.  This is a very pertinent issue and I hope we will continue debating it.  I thank you.

(v)HON. C. MOYO:  Thank you Madam Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate on the motion moved by Hon. MisihairabwiMushonga and seconded by Hon. Madhuku.  I think what is very important is that we are now in the new era. COVID is here to stay, therefore there is need for us to adjust accordingly.  There is need for us to also adapt accordingly.  What is very critical is this report is a feeder or an eye opener to the pending reopening of schools in 2021.  We need also to highlight that there is recession in Zimbabwe which highlights that Government has to do everything that is practical to ensure that education is provided to all our children.  There is SDG 4 which talks about quality education so I am trying to do a balancing act where we are in a new norm and COVID is here to stay with us.  It is a global pandemic but we need to reopen our schools.

It is also important that the Committee did some findings and I want to talk about water and sanitation in particular, in Bulawayo.  I

visited schools in my constituency and the situation was very pathetic.

There is no water in Bulawayo in particular in Mpopoma-Pelandaba.

The people actually thought I was not representing them because of the problem of water that they continue to face without any recourse of any sort.  The Gwayi/Shangani Project was going to be commissioned in 2021 but now it has been pushed to 2022.  What does it mean if we are to open our schools come March or April 2021.  There is going to be a problem.  So, through your office Madam Speaker, I am imploring Government to push the commissioning of the Gwayi/Shangani Project which is going to ease the perennial problems of Bulawayo to commission it in 2022.  Let us work on our programme and have plans which will allow us to commission the project in 2021 so that we ease the problems of water in Bulawayo.

Secondly, on PPEs, it happens that last year when exams were being written Madam Speaker, when I visited the schools in particular Misitengi High School and Mpopoma High School, children were coming with First Pack masks.  I think Government has to come up with a standard of the PPEs to be given to our children and be interlinked to

Section 27. As I said, Government has to come up with practical measures to ensure that all our schools get these required PPEs.  I think if we are able to come up with these PPEs and provide water to

Bulawayo, then it will be good for us to re-open schools in Bulawayo.

I also want to talk about the new curriculum.   I think this is the new norm and there is no need for our grade 7 students to write more than seven subjects.  Let us revert to the old curriculum because of the new norm.  Surely we cannot overburden our students by writing 11 to 12 subjects in this new norm.  It is not feasible or practicable.

The other issue we need to consider as well is the issue of school fees.  Our economy is not functioning because of the new norm which is the COVID era.  There is no way we can say our parents must pay school fees in full.  Besides, these schools have hiked their school fees.  Surely where will these parents get the money to pay all these school

fees.

On the issue of a research which was done where children said they were prepared to write their exams and the parents were saying they should not write, I think there was need for an actual vote to see how many parents and teachers were saying the children were ready to write exams and how many were saying they were not ready.  They were also supposed to go to students and members of the teachers unions so that we become inclusive in terms of how we are making the decision.  I thought maybe I can just throw those few points.

Lastly, if these PPEs are given to our schools, there is need to monitor and evaluate because of devolution from our provincial offices who will then monitor whether there is social distancing, enough masks and adequate sanitizers.  The moment we will be able to do that, we will be in the right gear to open our schools.  Surely schools must be opened in this new norm rather than continue to postpone opening of schools.  The result can be a disaster and that is where we will have our children going to school maybe after being impregnated by these old sugar daddies.  That is my submission Madam Speaker.  I thank you.

 (V)*HON. DUTIRO:Thank you Madam Speaker, I want to thank the mover of the motion who is also the Chairperson of the Committee of Education Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga.  Most schools are owned by City Councils and these councils have no intention to build the schools. Developments that used to be there are no longer there, they have been destroyed.  There is an increase in the number of children but there is no development on school infrastructure.

The other issue is that schools are far away from the community and children are walking long distances.  We have ECD children who walk long distances to go to school.  If we look back, we used to have what we call per-capita grants.  These days we have what we call BEAM and it is our request that we kindly ask the Government to re-introduce per capita grant for the sake of development even to schools in the rural areas.

If you look at the distance travelled by children these days someone will choose that their children board two buses to get to school leaving nearby schools; instead of promoting or developing that local school.  Children are travelling long distances to attend far away schools. Government must put a law so that children will go to local schools.  Schools used to have 60 pupils in a class but this number has since been reduced because of COVID-19 and a class that was taught by one teacher now needs 3 teachers.  We cannot employ more teachers and this is the truth.  It is my request that we come together and come up with sustainable resolutions to request the Government to consider hot

sittings.

The issue of sanitary wear is private to our culture and senior teachers are responsible for this in schools.  I agree with the previous speaker who mentioned that we now have male individuals who are now responsible for the purchasing of sanitary wear.  Let us value our culture and allow women to do that. I thank you very much Hon. Speaker.

(v) HON. NDUNA: Thank you Madam Speaker, I will attend to debate and I will debate in English.  This is a very important motion that has been presented as a report by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga.  I have a few points from the people of Chegutu West Constituency, in particular from the primary schools which they visited as a Committee to appreciate the preparedness in this COVID-19 pandemic. The issue of

ICT cannot be overemphasised. It has been said by many Hon. Members time without numbers, how we can get our children in primary and secondary schools included in information communication technology because the issue of this COIVD-19 pandemic, like a nightmare in 3 dimensions, it has hit us certainly and we need to use what we have to get what we want.

I propose the Executive to ameliorate this issue of the deficit of the ICT and information communication gadgets.  I ask that Government zero rate the duty on (part of the speech no recorded due to network failure] ..... inclusion at our borders for importation and this was adhered to in its totality and I applaud Government for doing that and if you went on further to request that there be issuance of sanitary wear in schools and the adherence of the same by the Executive is applauded.  I go further and say the issue of sanitary wear comes about because of national duty that our young girls goes through each month, the issue of period pains and so forth is national duty.  I say so because no man goes through such a very painful experience.  So, it is needful that our girls do not stay away from school and they get this sanitary wear, get it for free and they get the right sanitary wear.  How do I propose that it get to be paid for, Madam Speaker, ...

Madam Speaker having exchanged Chair with the Temporary

Speaker.

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO):

Order Hon. Nduna, Madam Speaker has moved from the Chair.

HON. NDUNA: Hon. Speaker Sir, good afternoon. I applaud your ICT information communication members from the staff for having put your face on that computer so that I can recognise fully that it is now you who is now on the Chair Mr. Speaker Sir.  I am sorry for calling you

Madam Speaker Ma’am.

I will go ahead on the issue of sanitary wear.  The issue of Community Share Ownership Trusts should come in to augment and complement Government’s efforts in the provision of sanitary pads and sanitary wear to our innocent and unsuspecting school children, girls in particular so that there is no impediment in their quest to deal with their school issues.

I go further and say that Mr. Speaker Sir, in terms of face masks and protective equipment (PPE), these Community Share Ownership Trusts should also put in resources in order that they provide PPEs for our children so that their quest is just to continue with their school work as opposed to them looking for resources to finance the issue of face masks and other PPE issues.

Mr. Speaker Sir, Hon. Moyo touched on the issue of school feeding.  School feeding was started in the Eighth Parliament during the time of Hon. Dr. Dokora.  I also add my voice and say, having called for the inclusion or start of school feeding in the Eighth Parliament, I go on to say that there is need to complement such efforts by Government from the private sector in order that school feeding continues if not in the urban areas it should definitely be continued in the rural areas.  I say so Mr. Speaker Sir because our children move for more than 10 kms to a nearby primary school and by the time they get to school, they will be so tired and sleepy.  By the time they return home, it is after feeding time.  It is my hope that they get some feeding at school and also maybe continue on their studies.  Our children are tired ad infinitum.  They are tired all the time and do not have the opportunity to regain their energy in the absence of school feeding programmes.

I also add my voice in that the issue of Community Share Ownership Trusts and finances from those big conglomerates of companies who are indulging or engaging in mining activities should also channel some of their funds and profits to school feeding programmes and sanitary wear for our children.  We owe it to posterity and the future of our generations to thrive, and these are the youths that we hope will be the future of this country.

The fourth point Mr. Speaker Sir, is the issue of certification or documentation of the children both in primary and secondary schools.  It has not been difficult for me in my constituency, in particular to get children to go through primary education without any birth certificates or national registration.  I have requested all headmasters to take those children on board so that we can deal with the birth certificates at a later stage or maybe after Grade Seven.  A lot of primary school children have no birth certificates even when the Birth and Registration Act implores all health institutions that after six weeks or before the expiry of 42 days, every child should have a birth certificate after birth.  A lot of children in the rural part of my constituency, three wards out of the 15 that I have which are the rural part of my constituency have no birth certificates because they were not born in any health institution but were born at home.  So I implore the Executive to take this opportunity of the lockdown to group these children and issue them with birth certificates either at their place of residence or schools.

The fifth point that I seek to add my voice to Mr. Speaker Sir, as has also been dealt with by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Hon. Moyo, is the issue of teacher attendance to schools and teacher remuneration – that is very key.  I know that when it comes to issues of teacher welfare, our current Minister of Primary and Secondary

Education, his heart is on the right place when it comes to issues of teacher welfare and attendance to school.  I go further and request that there be non-monetary incentives given to teachers so that they can have their morale upped and they can go to work heads and shoulders high knowing fully that they are going to teach the future of this nation in the form and mold of primary and secondary school children.

Which are these non-monetary incentives that I propose?  We have the Mines and Minerals Act that is coming to Parliament which is going to deal expeditiously and without fear or favour, on the issue of claims held for speculation and speculative purposes.  Teachers should also get these gold claims so that their morale is upped and they can look for partners to partner them in the gold extraction initiatives.

Mr. Speaker Sir, there is the downsizing of land.  Whilst the youth are also benefiting, it is my hope that teachers can also benefit from this land redistribution.  These are the non-monetary incentives that I propose that I also ask the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to go into bed with Hon. Dr. Masuka on the issue of land and  the

Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Hon. Chitando on issue of mines for the betterment and good service of our teachers.  Further, their children should not pay school fees in the schools that they are teaching – it is my proposal.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the sixth issue that I want to talk about is the issue of e-learning.  The issue of infrastructure sharing by NetOne, Econet, Telecel and other service providers can actually ameliorate the issue of our children in the rural areas and in other areas on the issue of elearning where there can be improved network so that our children, after getting their gadgets duty free, they certainly can without challenges engage and indulge in e-learning.

I have the second last issue Mr. Speaker Sir,…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. M. KHUMALO): 

Yes, you are left with five minutes Hon. Member.  Proceed please.

(V)HON. NDUNA:  Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I should be done

in five minutes.  The issue of school fees as has been alluded to by the Chairperson, Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga should be pro rata.  We are in February and an example is from rentals.  The rentals that are paid in January and March definitely should be prorated in February to be reduced in terms of the amount and quantum paid because the terms are not the same. So that should be done to schools fees. The heads should be requesting for reduction of fees according to the number of dates attended and this will cascade downwards to what is paid by the parents during this lockdown period.

The last point is the issue of form one places. Secondary schools should publicise who it is that they have recruited or gotten those form one places, otherwise it becomes a place where corruption, cohesion and nepotism gets to be fertile if we are not careful Mr. Speaker. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to vociferously and effectively expose the issues that the constituents of Chegutu West Constituency have sent me to elucidate.

(v)HON. DR. LABODE: I want to thank Hon. Misihairabwi, Hon. Madhuku and the Committee on Primary and Secondary Education for a brilliant report which is on education. Mr. Speaker, in 2018, Hon.

Dokora came to the House and presented a report on the fact that 4 500 grade sevens had failed to proceed to form 1 because of pregnancy. In 2019, UNICEF produced another report which the Ministry of Education had to say the number had gone up. Now in 2019, 7000 failed to go to form one due to pregnancy and we did nothing.

Section 76 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Amendment No. 20 provides for the right to health care services including reproductive health services for all. However, section 35 of the Public Health Act limits this right to health care by requiring an informed consent to a health service from a person with legal capacity which for minors would translate to a parental for a third consent. It penalises any health practitioner who fails to comply with that consent requirement.

Mr. Speaker, National Survey and my observation shows that legal cultural and religious barriers to accessing sexual reproductive services have not stopped any sexual début and increased the sexual activity among the youth in Zimbabwe, those below the age of eighteen. As a consequence, our youth are on the wrong side of sexual reproductive indicators. In Zimbabwe, we have a very high incidence among the youth ending in unintended pregnancies resulting in high school dropouts, child marriages, sexual and gender-based violence, unsafe abortions and all this is caused by denial by the parents, church and legislators that the adolescent children are sexually active and are getting pregnant yet they have no access to information, ability to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

This is a huge problem and it is all shrouded in this hypocrisy that we cannot confront a problem or accept that our children are having sex early. The national teenage pregnancy rate in Zimbabwe is – [Technical fault] – which translates to one in every five girls and that unintended pregnancy is the lead cause of school drop-outs in Zimbabwe – [Technical fault] – for 2018.  There should be no restrictions in accessing reproductive health medicine by persons below the age of eighteen that includes HIV literacy, HIV testing, treatment, post counselling and sexual – [Technical fault] –

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER: Hon. Labode, are you there?

HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you Mr. Speaker for affording me this opportunity to debate on this very important motion by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga. My observation is; the motion was about checking on compliance of schools to the COVID-19 regulations. Of course, other things arose when the Committee moved around but I think the issue centred on this very important mission the team had embarked on.

They observed a lot of things, like our schools had taken heed of providing, though rudimentary, sanitisers in the form of water despite the fact that it was not adequate and were fetching from far-away places but they were doing something towards cleanliness of hands in order to fight COVID-19. We also observed from what the report was saying, that schools had some face masks for the learners, which was an important effort that reflected that our schools were conscientised and responding to the need to fight COVID-19.

I think that we should really applaud our school authorities,

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education for playing a very important role in my own observation, because people up to the age of seventeen, if researches on the internet are correct, in many cases are asymptomatic. They are carriers of the disease if they get infected.  Then they take it home to older people, they get infected and fall ill.  The effort by the Ministry of Education and the school authorities to ensure that transmission among and in between these children was mitigated was critical.  I want to say thank you for that effort.  Mr. Speaker Sir, you would also realise that most of the issues that were in the report are pertinent but they have been with us for a long time.  Covid is a new phenomenon.  Covid is very difficult because in my view, looking at what it has done in the world today and the changes that we see even from the World Health Organisation, it shows that the understanding on this disease has not yet gone to something which we can rely on.

Everyday there is a change.

I was reading yesterday that surfaces are no longer a critical issue in terms of transmission of covid-19 but we were told that surfaces would be one medium of transmission which is critical.  You do not have to touch surfaces and you do not wash your hands.  One of the researchers says, it depends on amount and it is not critical; invest in the face mask.  So there has been a lot but I am happy that we have done something as a country and our schools have responded to that.  What is needed now is to find solutions in terms of empowering those schools to do more and reduce transmission through schooling system.

My proposal would be, when I was going to school, there was a subject called Fashion and Fabrics from primary school to lower secondary school.  If we were going to buy every school 10 to 15 sewing machines as Ministry of Education, give them the material to sew face masks, we will have more of our children protected thereby protecting the whole population they interact with after leaving school.  The issue that we talk about in terms of social distance, surely children want to be close to their friends.  They do not understand that there is COVID-19 that kills.  What we can only do is to emphasise the cleanliness, emphasise the masks and provide how these schools can have those masks available at no fee.  These are innocent children who will contract COVID and pass it on without knowing that they are involved in the whole chain of transmission of the dangerous disease.  In my view, it is very important that we try and use the school system and empower them to create their own resources.  In my constituency, there are women who manufacture ordinary soap including the powder soap.  If we can do that to schools and train the schools to produce the soap, it means there will be more soap available.

My research shows that soap is even more effective than sanitisers because I am reading that there is too much toxicity in sanitisers.  Two to three years down the line we may all be in trouble with cancer and everything after using all these things but with soap, I was born and washed with soap and I am still here, no cancer.  If we can specialise in things within our means and resources, we can improve the issue around compliance in schools around the issue of covid.  This investigation was an eye opener.  I am excited that they had those rudimentary ‘sgubhu gear’ where they would ensure that they do not tough.  This is empowering.  If we can do other things that are sustainable that can be given to schools in a certain form that can be durable, we will improve cleanliness in our way to fight COVID-19.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of the education system, I think there is need of a serious conversation with the stakeholders involved, maybe a serious education reform that will include the Ministry of Education, stakeholders like Civic Organisations, UNESCO and Parliament and parents.  The issues that we are faced with, to me are critical.  Let me talk about the failed Grade 7 examinations.  I was a teacher before.  You do not set an examination from where you have not taught a child.  If you look at the pass rate which was affected by covid because they had not gone through the syllabi, it shows that teachers or whoever the authority that created the exam papers did not consider what had been done by the children for that term.

What was the intention of setting exams on the stuff that had not been taught to children?  ZIMSEC call in teachers from throughout the country, if that is the system they are still using to come up with exam papers.  They were quite aware that there was COVID, there were those strikes and the syllabus was not followed to the letter and they then went on to set the exams beyond what had been learnt.  Were they sabotaging these children so that they fail?  Was it deliberate?  We need to look at

that.

The other issue is related to remuneration of teachers.  Definitely, everyone would want to be paid well, including Members here.  They have been complaining that when we started, we were earning so much and now we are earning so much.  The situation is clear and it is there.  The economy is not performing and Government pays us and civil servants from what they earn from taxpayers.  If they do not have the money, where do they get this money?  We come here as Members of Parliament, approve a budget that so much billions are going to the Ministry of Education.  They dissect that and tell us what this is going to do.  The salaries budget is also there.  Mid way they want salary increase, which is true because things would have changed but where does that money come from?  Do we want our Government to start paying outside its budget or we want a Government that is following the law?  By the way, Budget is a law, it has to be followed.  So it starts here, are we allocating enough to the Ministry of Education so that it pays enough to the teacher.   If we are not allocating enough, the teachers out there should face their Members of Parliament and ask them why.  If we consider education to be very important, why are we not saying the budget should not go through unless we have so much, because we anticipate so much increase throughout the year?  If we have not done so, let us go and talk to Government.  Honestly, we cannot blame Government but should say we under budgeted, can you come up with a supplementary budget to deal with the teachers’ situation than to blame anybody.  Government had proposed a budget and we have approved it.  So it means we are insensitive to the needs of the teachers, us as representatives of the people.

                  In my view, teachers at one point were the most paid civil servants and it was a pride to be a teacher but things have changed.  Like I have said, at one point you were paid and you had a certain standard of living as Members of Parliament but the income to Government that then converts to your income has changed.  This also has affected teachers, nurses, civil servants, even the officers of Parliament are not earning as much as they would want to earn, given the cost of living out there.

Definitely, we have seen something from mid-last year.  Government has tried to do something, to improve the income and benefits of teachers and other civil servants and it must be applauded.  We should see that going up as we were promised by Government that they will be trying to do something as we go.  They will try to increase the income of everybody under their jurisdiction.  We expect that to improve over time.  Also, those teachers in my view, we need an education reform programme that I am proposing that we have a new system.  Performance based, teachers must – if you go and look at private schools, they pay their teachers in relation to the pass rate.  If you are teaching Geography and you have 98% pass rate, you are paid a bonus for that performance.  If we can have that in the education reform system, we will have these teachers performing.

Those stakeholders who negotiate with Government, we need

honest negotiations, not political negotiations.  We need to negotiate because the issue of Government is as transparent; the budget is there, the Blue Book is there.  Everyone knows what is in for the Ministry of Education.  So when we negotiate as a union that we would want a certain increase, what are you basing your argument on?  Is it because you want that money but you have also to consider where the money is going to come from, so that the negotiation becomes fruitful not like a run flow.  I am not defending Government but I am saying as stakeholders, let us be honest because if it comes like it is Government which is not performing when we are all aware – these same unions are consulted by the Ministry of Education…

THE TEMPORARY SPEAKER (HON. MUTOMBA):

Hon. Member, you are left with five minutes.

            HON. TOGAREPI: Thank you.  Every Ministry has got its

stakeholders and they are involved in this, based on the availability of those resources.  I think it is very critical that all stakeholders negotiate in good faith so that we do not destroy a generation, as we squabble, fight and disagree on what has to be paid to teachers; what is the pupil/teacher ratio and everything, children must go to school and get the same opportunity that we got.  We should try by all means to use available resources.

                  The chairperson said there are those tents, if they are there and can be distributed to certain schools so that we use them during the interim period as we construct more schools, it is a good move.  Members of Parliament as we get our CDF, let us also target construction of schools.  When the mid-year comes, let us go to the Minister of Finance and request further support on the CDF so that we build more schools.  Let us all participate so that nobody is blamed.  We do not want to say we are not achieving our goals because this one has done such.  It is the economy, let us have everybody involved; all stakeholders doing their part than having a blame game.  I thank you.

(v)+HON. MAHLANGU: If you check at my constituency

the roads are very bad and the teachers cannot travel on those bad roads, hence I do not see it fit for the schools to be opened.  My plea to the

Ministry of Transport is to look into the issue of roads in rural areas so that they are passable.  The lockdown measures should continue until certain standards are met.  Also, learners are not protected at schools, some schools in rural areas have no water, hence it is not safe for them to go to school yet.

On the issue of sanitary wear for the girl child, I propose that the Government should provide sanitary wear to girls and put them in toilets in different schools because the girls cannot afford to buy sanitary wear. Imagine a family with three girls, how can they afford to buy sanitary wear yet they cannot even afford to buy mealie-meal.  I will then touch on the issue of e-learning, some of the students cannot afford to buy data bundles so that they can learn online. The less privileged are left out in these programmes because of the issues that I am highlighting.  The girl child is highly affected by these problems, a scenario which is increasing challenges of girl children that date old men.  They get into such relationships so as to get posh things like cell phones and other items.

My plea is that before the Government looks into the issue of opening schools, they need to look at a lot of things that negatively affected people especially the fact that people cannot get into their normal businesses because of lockdown that has been brought about by COVID-19.  Government needs to put in place a payment plan that will make sure that during the time of COVID-19, parents are not forced to pay too much towards school fees.  I thank you.

HON. MPARIWA:  Thank you Hon. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate on this very important report that has been put before the House by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga and seconded by Hon. Madhuku.  I really want to appreciate the contents and the recommendations of the report which gives the way forward in terms of how we can proceed. I will not belabour the House with so many inputs because most of my points have been taken by other members who have spoken before me and I also want to associate with the recommendations.

I will first touch on children with disability – when you see such a vulnerable category of children being mentioned in the report, it means at the back there is a lot that is happening.  You will notice that the Committee did go out to schools but they did not manage to go to all schools.  We say this is a sample in terms of what is happening in most of the schools in Zimbabwe.  At the end, this vulnerable group will remain vulnerable if they are not taken into consideration. There is need to treat them inclusively with other able bodied school children.

I noted in the report where there was mention of 365 face masks versus 700 that were required – you can see that that is a shift in terms of actually having every other pupil having a mask on the face.  When you have children with disability, they cannot clamour for the masks because of their various deformities so they need to be catered for.  My call is just to say, we need to impress upon the Government to cater for this particular category so that they participate in the school environment with equal rights and protection as t the other school children who would be in the same classes with them.  The approach needs to be biased towards children with disability.

Secondly, on teachers’ working conditions – yes we have talked a lot about this; also accommodation, transport and dressing.  A teacher is supposed to be dressed in a tie, jacket and closed shoes but gone are those days.  I am glad that a former teacher spoke just before me. A teacher is supposed to be dignified but at the moment, they do not have enough money that can purchase a decent suit.  You find them in tennis, sandals or gum shoes because that is what their money can buy.  As for the ladies, they are supposed to be in decent costumes but gone are those days. It is no longer a pride to be a teacher because of the poverty.  Even in the bars when they go to socialise, there is a huge beer container that is called ‘maheadmaster’ because it is very cheap and that is the beer the teachers can only buy.  When society then views the people who are supposed to give us a profession that will take us to the end, then we should look at it.

What am I recommending? I think it is high time that the

Government looks at none monetary benefits in terms of the teachers’ welfare that is for dressing – give them dressing allowance so that they are at least better dressed and they get two or three suits so that they are not looked down upon in society.  We cannot have students who are dressed better than their teachers in a classroom.  That is pathetic Hon.

Speaker.

I am also recommending that Government can negotiate with financial building societies that can actually offer to construct houses or offer some loans for teachers to access accommodation.  That way, we will have teachers that will stay on the job and we will not have labour migration to Botswana, South Africa or Zambia.  We have our teachers who have left Zimbabwe for Mozambique.  This is pathetic.  There are things that we can improve – working conditions for teachers.

Government should continue engaging with the labour unions,

Teachers’ unions, so that we get the dialogue going and get people to agree in a room.  What is agreed upon actually becomes binding on the parties.  I think it is never too late.  Now before the schools open, we can actually foster the negotiation and dialogue that the teacher’s union and the Government can come up with.  There are several proposals that I have mentioned in terms of improving the working conditions.

I will not belabour the House on the ICT, it has been dealt with but I think also on the ICT, I worry in terms of children with disabilities in terms of Braille transcriber and access to ICT.  We need to look at them with a bias in terms of access to such equipment that will enable them to access e-learning.

Lastly, this is a key Ministry and priority has to be given to it.  We need to be strong in terms of the recommendations.  We agree and support the recommendations that the Committee has given.  No longer is the teaching profession a pride to be associated with unless we do something.  As Parliament, we have an opportunity where we interface with the Minister of Education, Minister of Health and Minister of

Finance.  I would like to thank the Committee because this has been an eye opener but a lot is happening out there and we need to probe more.   I associate with the recommendations.

(v)*HON. PRISCILA MOYO:  Thank you Mr. Speaker, I want to add my voice on the motion that has been raised by Hon. MisihairabwiMushonga and seconded by Hon. Madhuku.  This issue of COVID is very painful.  It is a challenge to school children.  Where I come from in

Mwenezi, we have a challenge of water during this COVID pandemic.  So, we have to investigate especially the paying of school fees in schools.  We are saying fees should be paid but pupils spend three months without learning and in rural areas, there is no other way of getting money.  Is it not proper that school fees be reduced because children are going to stay at home since parents do not have the money to pay school fees?

I also want to touch on the issue of sanitary wear, our girl children are in trouble.  They cannot get sanitary pads but we see that our Government has done well by setting aside funds to help the girl child to access sanitary pads but that did not take place because children in rural areas are still suffering.  Is it not proper that school heads should trace how these monies are being handled.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I also want to talk about water.  We had good rains in Mwenezi but unfortunately, many schools lost their roofs.  Children are expected to go back to school but some schools do not have roofs.  What is going to happen?  Before we open schools, I think we should assess the conditions of the schools and we should also assess whether schools are getting the resources that they need.  If schools do not have infrastructure, how can they have other resources for them to open schools.

I think whatever you are doing, you should also look at areas like Mwenezi which are still way back.  They cannot get some of these things.  So the Committee should also visit places like Mwenezi.  If we look at all areas, you find that people have cellphones but there is no network. I think service providers like NetOne and Econet should provide coverage in all the areas especially in schools and that they get paid by schools.  The time that we are now living in means children will be grounded for a long time but if there is network, they can learn using online method.  May the service providers and look into that as well? If service providers are included in Government programmes they would also look at those areas which are disadvantaged.

Moving on to extra lessons, you find that many children are lagging behind because they cannot pay teachers the money that they want.  Some teachers are concentrating on those children who are able to pay money.  I think it should be clear that if extra lessons are supposed to be given, they should be done transparently so that people know how much they are supposed to pay for extra lessons.  With these few words, I want to support what the Committee is doing.  The recommendations that they made should be closely looked at by the Government so that our children will get good education especially looking at the times that we are living in, during this pandemic, we are in it for a long time.  So, in order for us to go on with our lives, we should incorporate all important sectors so as to live with this pandemic.  I thank you.

HON. JOSIAH SITHOLE:  Thank you Hon. Speaker Sir, I want

also to add my voice to this report that was presented by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga, seconded by Hon. Madhuku.  Mr. Speaker, I happened to be one of the Hon. Members who visited these schools.  During our visit, the issue of teacher incapacitation became a song wherever we went.  You would find teachers, schools inspectors, district school inspectors talking about it.  District Schools Inspectors were saying there is nothing happening because teachers are incapacitated and PDs as well. That means we have a scenario where schools are no longer supervised and all things have been relinquished.

Mr. Speaker Sir, my recommendation is that we need to capacitate the school inspectors.  These people can go on the ground and make sure that the machinery is put to order.  If these people are not checking on the performance or what will be happening in schools, even if schools are to open, we are going to have a very difficult scenario for our learners.  We also observed that the examinations were a challenge to the administrators of these examinations. One of the challenges was the financial backing.  When these examinations are prepared, there is no fund that is put aside to administer examinations.  Generally headmasters in schools have been surviving by taking money for those classes that are not writing exams.  Unfortunately, now with COVID, there were no payments being made by other classes and that is a very difficult scenario for headmasters on administering exams.

I remember in my constituency, most schools had to be bailed out by well-wishers because they could not have these examinations which are taken daily.  You collected a paper in the morning, children sat for it and before the end of day, it would be returned.  The exercise itself was very tedious and needed some money. Most schools really suffered because of that problem.

Teacher incapacitation also affected the preparedness of our learners, not only examination classes but all learners. The lack of issues which have been taken up; that is ICT, radio, television, I want to say there is a very difficult gadget that is being used here which is the radio.

Generally, these days our children want to see, then hear so that they can learn.  If you just have a radio, it is not attractive.  Even during our time as learners, a teacher would say, now it is time for radio lesson.  All children would get closer and would be monitored.  In this case there was no monitoring of the radio exercise at home and our children did not get attracted by that.

We also discovered that, because of the financial challenges headmasters were now forcing the parents to pay school fees in forex.  They felt if they were going to get the RTGS. They would not be able to move or engage in school activities. That affected them although they went out of the principles. Heads of schools are not at all supposed to accept forex and because they had no forex accounts, they ended up not receipting.

As a Committee, we also discovered that for learners who had teachers in schools, they ended up having lessons or getting written work by mid-March of 2020.  It is now a year gone before those children have had some teaching lessons.  So, there is a very big gap and that gap needs to be covered up.  That gap again, is the one which has resulted in poor results that we have been told of.

Hon. Speaker, I am appealing to the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to go back to what they called PLUP, introduced by Mr. Muzavazi. I think he is still serving as a Director in the Ministry. PLUP means Performance Lag Address Programme where you would have Grade 3 pupils going into Grade 4.  There are some concepts or learning skills not covered in Grade 3 that are good for Grade 4 students.  Therefore, I wish this programme could be done even for form ones because we have seen that a number of our form ones did not do well.  If the programme could be taken then on board, we would have a situation whereby some grade seven material is taught to form one student before they can start on form one work.  That exercise might even help those who did not do well because of lack of teaching, to catch up very fast.

So I think that recommendation needs to be taken up.

The issue of pregnant girls – I feel there is need for more education in our communities and psycho-social support because some of these pregnant girls might not want to go back to school.  Ministry officials are supposed to visit schools and educate the girl child about the issue of pregnancy so that the pregnant girls are not ridiculed by others.  They should feel comfortable to go back to school.

The issue of persons with disabilities was not properly handled from Ministry level because the Standard Operations Procedures themselves that were given to schools in terms of re-opening of schools did not have an indication or anything written about persons with disabilities.  People in schools followed that and stuck to what they were given.  So I think this was a very big omission by the Ministry.

The issue of repeaters may not only be for grade sevens who are going to Form 1. Many parents are now talking about having their children repeating, whether  they are in Grade 2, 3 or 4 because there are certain grade levels where if a child misses some concepts, they cannot go ahead to the next level.  This issue needs to be looked into and not to be streamlined to form ones only.  The Ministry should put a waiver on the issue of repeating starting from ECD.

HON. MADZIMURE: Hon. Speaker, I have a few issues.  Firstly, I would like to thank the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education for a well written report.  As Members of Parliament, we are now looked at in a different perspective after what we said during the debate on the Budget that the funding we are giving to education is not enough.

It is my plea that when we look at funding, we look at per capita, how much are we giving to each child? That can form a very good basis of us looking at how we can improve.  It does not matter how little it can be.  We must not be ashamed of the amount.  It gives us a starting point.  So simply generalising issues makes it very difficult for us to find a solution.

We are living in the COVID era and we might have it for some time.  The issue of water must be treated as a project.  I was looking at my own rough estimation.  It takes USD$1 800 to drill a borehole and put casing.  Considering that we have many schools we can cluster them. When a ring goes into an area, it then concentrates on schools in that particular area which reduces the cost of transport. Putting of solar DC which is direct from the sun to your panel, to your submissive pump which can be a single horse power and a tank that costs these days $345 because you want water during the day only. You can pump water enough to supply to a school with a cost that is not more than US$5000. If we can concentrate on that – look at it carefully, we can drill a borehole for each school, supply water to the school which can be used for other things like agriculture, nutrition purposes where schools can grow various crops. Let us have it direct because it does not require the issue of batteries and the like. We can supply water to our schools. Some schools are very close to dams. We can use the same system to pump water from dams to schools.

If we are to control COVID, we need to go an extra mile in making sure that our schools are safe. If you look at the cost of treating a person with COVID and what we need to prepare schools so that we prevent COVID, it costs much less to do so than to treat people. If you look at the majority of people who have gone to St. Annes where they are asked to pay USD$2500 as deposit and then the daily charges, you find it so expensive. Why can we not prepare and make sure that we have water for our children so that when they got to school they are safe.

On the issue of PPEs, we have seen on television programmes exhibited as though a lot of our schools are making PPEs. From the

Committee’s findings, they have seen all kinds of face masks at schools – with some that do not even protect the children. Why can we not concentrate on a mask that is suitable for our children so that when they put up a mask, it protects them. This can be done easily by those schools that we have identified, that have got the means to produce. Why are we not doing so? Not only that Mr. Speaker Sir, let us fund some of those organisations that we have already established. If you look at the mask that you are wearing Mr. Speaker, some of these Parliament masks are so effective because they really cover your face and you can talk while wearing such a mask. The problem that we have with these various masks that our learners are putting on is that, they find it very difficult to speak before that mask starts dropping to the extent that the teacher will end up saying; no, no it is okay let it drop and continue talking. Those are the small things that we have to concentrate on.

Our biggest problem as Zimbabwe is that we do not pay attention to detail. We just talk and generalise everything – everything is okay and things are moving fine. The business as usually mentality does not help us. We have to learn a lot from the report. The Committee did a wonderful job for the Ministry and I just hope the Minister is going to come here and give the appropriate response to this work. I am afraid that with the kind of Minister that we have, he does not pay attention to detail. He glosses over issues. We are not blaming anyone. The report proffers solutions but we are helping the Minister. We are also providing another eye that he might not have. Let us not look at the report as undermining the authority of Government or Minister. It is simply highlighting the problems that we have.

If we go recommendation by recommendation, I can tell you if attention is given and paid to those recommendations, we will come up with a super way forward for our children. Every time you have someone going to maternity ward and the solution must be for the future. I want to thank the Committee for doing a splendid job. Let us go through it as Members of Parliament, by helping in our constituencies as far as the report is concerned. Let us share the report with learners and teachers to show that we are concerned. At least if they realise that there are people who are concerned, then they can have peace of mind to say we are sharing the burden. We must share the burden with our teachers.

We must appreciate that our teachers have got a real job. If they do not give a good foundation, what more do you expect? In Shona they say gavi rinobva kumasvuuriro. You cannot expect a doctor from a child who will have gone Form 1 with 20 units. Do you expect a doctor to come out of that child - no? That will not happen. The Minister says it is not the benchmark for you to be admitted to Form 1. It does not make any sense. We all know that at every school selection was based on – apart from the point-system, it is the other means which is corruption. Those are the only two things. Either they use your pass mark or it is corruption.

As much as it is a relationship between the learner and the school which the learner would have selected, it must be disclosed what criteria was used and who were selected. I think parents deserve a closure. My child has five points and he selected three schools and out of those three schools he was not selected. What could have been the reason?  It also kills the child and the confidence diminishes. I think it is important that we take the report seriously and we find a way forward. I thank you.

*HON TEKESHE: Thank you Mr. Speaker for giving me this opportunity to debate on the motion raised by Hon MisihairabwiMushonga seconded by Hon Madhuku. There are some people who say I work according to how much I get paid. I hear a lot of people crying that a lot of children have failed. A lot of people are crying because of the issue of salaries.  Why can the Government not go to neighbouring countries like South Africa or Botswana to see how teachers are paid?  Back in the days teachers were known to have a better lifestyle but now even touts are laughing at them because of the paltry salary.   My major question is why are we still talking about school fees 40 years after independence? Year 2000 had a vision of free education for all.  Where did this vision go?  Today those who are fully attending classes are those from well up backgrounds.  The have-nots cannot afford to do that.  The gap between the rich and the poor cannot be covered because there is no equality.

During the war we were told there would be free education but 40 years after independence there is nothing like that.  Given the wealth that this country has, we should be having free education now.  Education is a right for everyone but it is only a right for the rich ones.  I could not attend to two Parliament sessions when I was in Chiendambuya because there is no network.

Come to think of it, if there is no network how would you implement e-learning?  If there was free education we would not be talking about free sanitary wear.  This should be basic and accessible to everyone.  People should go beyond our borders to see how other countries are doing.  We should copy the good things other countries are doing.  Let us come together and think twice about this.

(v)*HON. MUTAMBISI:  I just want to add my voice to the report given by Hon. Misihairabwi-Mushonga. Most of the things have been mentioned but I will just say a few that I noted when we visited these schools.  One of the major problems we observed in these schools is lack of provision of water for school children.  Water was only found upon the entrance but the classrooms had nothing which made it meaningless.  During break time, children touch different surfaces and go back to the classrooms without washing their hands.  Children were being asked to bring 5 litres of water per child.  May the government assist on that issue?

Then coming to the issue of teacher turnout, one of the problems was teacher accommodation.  You find that eight teachers are staying in one house.  That way there is no privacy for them.  This was a school in Nkayi.  Given the pandemic this is not good at all.  I think government should build infrastructure to enable teachers to have proper accommodation.  The other issue is the lack of radio signal in these remote areas.  Children cannot access these radio lessons and teachers had to travel to Bulawayo to conduct their lessons at Montrose studios.  It is our wish that government increases the number on network boosters in these areas to enable them to have access to information.  A headmaster walks 5 kilometres so as to communicate with those in the urban areas.

On the issue of sanitary wear we would like to thank government for their efforts in making sure that schools have sanitary wear.  The problem was lack of knowledge amongst school children that there will be sanitary wear in the school.  It is our wish that the Ministry makes a follow up on these donations to ensure they have been put to use.  The other issue is that of lack of adequate sanitizers in schools.  It was our request that these things be found in schools.

Lastly I would like to mention the issue of the school feeding programme.  This is a very good programme but there is a problem of relish for these children.  Some parents cannot afford to give their children money to buy food, hence they are left to suffer.  We kindly ask government to assist in situations where parents cannot afford to pay fees. We are also asking Government to supplement children’s feed at each and every school, this must be uniform for all schools, not that this school is getting vegetables and the other school meat.  This is what I wanted to add on as a lot of things have been said.  The Government must supply water and help parents by paying school fees and Government must make sure that radio programmes that are meant to teach children reach all areas, even in remote areas and that transmission is available.  I thank you.

(V)*HON. RAIDZA: Thank you Mr. Speaker Sir, I want to add my voice to this very important motion.  It is a good report which touched on a lot of things.  I will touch on the issue of sanitation and the availability of water in schools.  This is an important issue especially looking at this COVID-19 era as schools needs a lot of water.  We urge the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to work closely with the Ministry of Local Government because it is the one that is dealing with the issue of devolution.  The Government disbursed a lot of money to our councils and these councils must supplement Government effort by providing clean water to schools.

Looking at this devolution fund we can see that part of the amount was used in curbing this COVID-19 pandemic.  It is our wish that part of this devolution fund be channelled to develop school infrastructure and to help buy some personal protective equipment in schools.  Now children are bringing 5 litres of water to school. I have witnessed that in my constituency in Mberengwa where children are asked to bring 5 litres of water to school and this is not fair to our children.

The other issue is on payment of fees. Government said that it will pay school fees in phases until we reach a point whereby our children will go to school for free.  Whilst waiting for that to happen, I want to encourage the parents especially in rural areas that they must pay fees.  Some of the fees charged, we see that they are very small amounts that are charged so that the parent pays something towards the education of their children. Long back, parents used to sell cattle, sheep, goats and farm produce in an effort to send their children to school.  Now you will find that some schools charge as little as 200RTGs per term, parents must make an effort to contribute their part and Government will supplement.

The payment of fees will help the school in buying personal protective equipment like face masks, sanitizers et cetera.  For schools that have sewing machines, I was suggesting that Government must give them materials so that they will sew their face masks.  I thank you Mr. Speaker Sir for affording me this opportunity to add my voice on this very important debate, especially in this COVID-19 era.

HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker Sir, I move that the debate do now adjourn.

HON. MPARIWA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

Debate to resume: Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021.

MOTION

BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE

HON. TOGAREPI: Mr. Speaker, I move that the rest of the Orders of the Day be stood over until Order of the Day No. 29 has been disposed of.

HON. MPARIWA: I second.

Motion put and agreed to.

MOTION

PREVALENCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Twenty ninth Order read: Adjourned debate on motion on the commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.

Question again proposed.

HON. BHUDA-MASARA: Thank you Hon. Speaker for this opportunity that you have afforded me.  I am making a wrap up of the motion that we moved as Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus in November, 2020 marking the beginning of 16 Days of Activism Against

Gender Based Violence.

Mr. Speaker Sir, on the 25th of November, 2020, the Zimbabwe Women Parliamentary Caucus moved a motion in commemoration of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.  The theme for 2020 was, ‘Orange the world, fund, respond, prevent, collect.’  As highlighted in the motion, cases of Gender Based Violence (GBV) have been on the increase.  The situation has been compounded by the

COVID-19 pandemic that has seen the rise of gender based violence.  This can be attributed to psychological, emotional, social and economic factors among others, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

Mr. Speaker Sir, allow me to take this opportunity to thank the Hon. Members for debating the motion in the august House.  I would be ungrateful if I do not mention the support that was rendered to the motion as well as radio programmes by the male parliamentarians – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – This shows that, as a nation, we are now moving in a positive direction.  I would also like to give my heartfelt gratitude to all the organisations that took part in the launch of the 16 Days Against Gender Based Violence.

Mr. Speaker Sir, gender based violence is not a women and girls issue only but includes every member of society.  Reports show that 21 women are raped every 75 minutes and the sad reality is that most of the perpetrators are close relatives.  This shows that rape sentences are not deterrent enough and need to be reviewed upwards.  Therefore, it is the duty of each and every one of us to protect the victims of GBV.  Issues pertaining to GBV should be an everyday talk until we begin to witness a decrease in the number of cases.

Mr. Speaker Sir, the issue of One-Stop Centres is a matter of concern.  Currently, we only have four centers across the nation that are all run by Msasa Project.  The centers are in Makoni in Manicaland Province, Gwanda in Matabeleland South, Gweru in Midlands and Chinhoyi in Mashonaland West.  We now call upon Government through its respective ministries to establish more resource centers and safe shelters for gender based violence victims at district levels.

Hon. Speaker Sir, culture is proving to be a major hindrance in the fight against GBV.  It is high time we review some of the cultural practices that perpetuate gender based violence.  Yes, Zimbabwe is a patriarchal society and in order for us to reduce gender based violence; we need more male champions in the fight against GBV. [HON.

MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] –

Hon. Speaker Sir, at this juncture, I would like to once again reiterate the positive role that the Parliament of Zimbabwe played and continues to play in the fight against gender based violence through the enactment of laws such as the Criminal Law Act (2006); Domestic

Violence Act (2007) and the Sexual Offences Act (2001) among others.  However, as highlighted above, these laws are proving to be inadequate as reflected by the increase in gender based violence cases.  This means that there is need to review them.

Hon. Speaker, Parliament must seriously consider declaring gender based violence a national crisis.  Activism against gender based violence must not wait for 25th November; it must be an ongoing process – 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days per year.  Hon. Speaker

Sir, allow me to officially close the motion by saying that it is

everyone’s responsibility to end gender based violence.  I call upon each and every one of us to take a leading role in the fight against gender based violence.

Mr. Speaker Sir, I now move the motion that this House -

COGNISANT that the Republic of Zimbabwe is signatory to the Beijing +25 Declaration, the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the SADC Protocol on

Gender and Development and the Sustainable Development Goals

(SDGs);

RECOGNISING that Sections 17, 56, 78, 79, 80 of the

Constitution of Zimbabwe provide for gender equality;

NOTING the commemoration of 16 Days of Activism Against

Gender Based Violence Campaign from 25 November – 10 December

2020, being held under the theme “Orange the world: Fund, Respond,

Prevent, Collect”; 

DEEPLY CONCERNED by the escalation of gender-based violence cases in Zimbabwe during the COVID-19 lockdown period;

WORRIED about the passion killings, abuse and harassment of women in public spaces;

NOW THEREFORE, in line with the eradication of Gender Based Violence and violence against women and girls (VAWG) campaign, calls upon

  1. Government to invest in issues of GBV and VAWG through gender responsive budgeting;
  2. Government to create an enabling environment for data collection and evidence which has always been a weakness in addressing violence against women because more is needed not just the number of the abused but knowledge and data that inform responses, policies and budgets;
  3. All stakeholders to participate and add their voice to GBV during this year’s commemoration campaign, be adopted.

Motion put and agreed to.

On the motion of HON. TOGAREPI, seconded by HON.

MPARIWA, the House adjourned at Eight Minutes to Six o’clock p.m.

until Tuesday, 2nd March, 2021.

 

 

 

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