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SENATE HANSARD 04_SEPTEMBER_2019_28-72
PARLIAMENT OF ZIMBABWE
Wednesday, 4th September, 2019
The Senate met at Half-past Two o’clock p.m.
(THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE in the Chair)
ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF
APPOINTMENT TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS
OF THE AFRICAN PARLIAMENTARIANS NETWORK FOR
DEVELOPMENT EVALUATION (APNODE)
THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF SENATE: I wish to
advice the House that the following are the Executive Committee
Members of the African Parliamentarians Network for Development
Evaluation (APNODE) Zimbabwe Chapter: Hon. Sen. Chief
Nechombo, Chairperson, Hon. P. Mpariwa, Vice Chairperson, Hon.
Mhona, Treasurer, Hon. T. Mavetera, Secretary, Hon. O. Sibanda,
Committee Member for Marketing, Hon. Sen. Chief Mtshane Khumalo, Committee Member, Hon. Madzimure, Committee Member. The main objective of APNODE is to create awareness and promote a culture of evaluation amongst Parliamentarians in order to inform evidence based decision making policy formulation.
EDUCATION AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 1B, 2019]
First Order read: Second Reading: Education Amendment Bill [H. B. 1B, 2019].
Question again proposed.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (PROF. MAVIMA): Mr. President, I move that the Education Amendment Bill, [H. B. 1B, 2019] be now read a second time.
Motion put and agreed to.
Bill read a second time.
Committee Stage: With leave; forthwith.
EDUCATION AMENDMENT BILL [H. B. 1B, 2019]
House in Committee.
Clauses 1 to 7 put and agreed to.
On Clause 8:
HON. SEN. MAVETERA: I went through this Bill but did not
see it addressing the issues are of concern to the general populace. So I thought on this Section, probably, what I want to talk about would actually fit into that. The role of the Minister in governing what is happening in private institutions. I went through the Bill and I did not see anywhere where the Minister is going to exercise his mandate because I truly believe that when you are Minister, you are Minister of both private and public, but this Bill is biased towards regulation of the public sector and neglecting the private sector. I do not know whether the Hon. Minister responded and probably if I missed it, my area of concern would be inserted.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Hon. Chair, the fees and levies payable at any non-Government school was regulated by a commission previously. I am not sure about the specific name but if you go to amendment of Section 21 which is item 10 in the Bill - because that Commission no longer exists, the responsibility is now in the hands of the National Competitiveness Commission.
We do regulation by and large of the schools. We register them and the registration is provided for here, we supervise them on an ongoing basis. We also put in place provisions for our structures to make sure, through our Secretary, that they are teaching properly, the curriculum is according to our standards, the teachers have the necessary qualifications and everything.
However, previously on the issue of fees they were under the supervision of what was known as the National Pricing Commission which is the one that was replaced by the National Competitiveness
Commission which was established by the National Competitiveness Act Chapter 14: 36. So this arrangement continues. This Commission is supposed to ensure that they do not pay outrageous fees, that they do not form cartels, that they consider the welfare of families.
I know what is happening now, Hon. Senator and Hon. Chair where a lot of these schools - sometimes even with the concurrence of the parents board, have hiked fees to astronomical levels, in some cases
RTGS$ 35 000 per term. They have pegged the fees on the basis of the USD.
Why on the matter of fees there was no direct influence by the Minister; was that these private schools essentially provide for an investment, either by an individual or by a trust. This investment, if you look at most of those schools is quite substantial, therefore they were given a leeway to where they are supposed to recoup some of those investment. This is why there was a difference than the direct supervision that we give to other schools on the issue of fees. However, all of them are actually mandated before they increase fees to tell the
Secretary that we have sat with the parents’ board and we have agreed on these fees and the secretary should then work either through raised issues with the Commission itself or the parents can raise issues with the Commission and that remains within this new Bill. So, everything else except the fees we actually control these schools.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Thank you Hon. Chair.
Minister, the Bill that you have is very pertinent. You said that the
National Competitive Commission which has replaced the National
Pricing Commission which will see all the pricing in the country; the Pricing Commission never used to follow up on schools but concentrated more on the commercial sector.
My view is that for private schools, though they apply to the secretary, the terms and conditions need to be strengthened because some of these schools were built long back, for example Dominican Convent here in town, is 78 years old. They may say that they want to build more infrastructure, but they already have enough infrastructure.
Since 2007, when our economy started collapsing, most schools were destroyed and the Government introduced incentives because teachers were now preferring private schools and most of the Government schools were left without teachers. So the private schools do assist when the economic conditions in our country are bad. The private schools took advantage of the economic situation and hiked fees, but now because the teachers prefer private schools because there is a lot of distortion when it comes to teachers salary, it makes the Government teachers demotivated.
My opinion is that even if these are private schools, they should not be at liberty to do whatever they want; we need regulations, checks and balances. Their fees are exorbitant like RTGS21 000, in US there is a USD fees rate and this is cruel, it is no longer investment. Therefore, my request is that we know that it is not right to control everything but some of the fees are cruel.
HON. SEN. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam Chair. Like what
Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira has said, this Bill is a very important Bill and is going to define our future. Suffice to say, I hope you will forgive me for bringing in these issues because they are not addressed anywhere in the Bill which probably points to my argument that this Bill is not robust enough to cater for the needs of our people. We need to review and look at it. My point Madam Chair, is that on the issue of educational institutions chasing away school children, I have not seen where it is addressed because if a child is chased away, the parents makes up for the child but the child is not compensated for that time that has been lost when they were chased away. I feel that the Bill should make it illegal for a child to be expelled from a school. The Hon. Minister would probably say, it is a contract between parents and the school but when you involve yourself in an illegal contract which violates the laws of the country, I do not think we can entertain that as a nation. The child should be protected on their right to education. When they are chased away they are violated in terms of being stigmatised and all sorts of things come into play.
We are not going to come back and discuss or come again with another Bill. This Bill must be comprehensive enough to address all the fundamental rights of the child, their rights at school. I do not want to labour the point, I think it is clear. We want the Bill to come out very clearly that it is illegal for a pupil to be expelled from school or even to be told about that you have not paid fees, your father has not done this. Some are humiliated when they are called to stand and we cannot have such things. It is something that has been happening and I expect the Minister in this new Bill to address those problems which we were encountering. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. J. D. HUNGWE: Madam Chair, I also want to add my voice to the debate. The Senator said that the Bill does not give the Minister enough powers to ensure that he cannot allow some of these measures in the education system. We want the Minister, as is provided in section of Amendment 2A, that the Minister should be the one in charge. The work of the Minister in education is that of legislation. He should see where things are going wrong, bring it to the House and spell out the anomalies. We also faced such challenges before when I was still in the education sector with Minister Dr. Mutumbuka. Watershed had a committee and Ziyenge and a white man. They had their own school and he said schools of this type were a challenge and we faced the challenge last time. The fees are exorbitant. I was called in Parliament to come and talk about the issue. Education in 1893 through the Lutheran faith. Governor Zingeya rejected such a school. Government did not have schools, at that time. We agreed that since they are not going to take their schools abroad, if they were going to raise their fees to exorbitant fees, the Minister would come to Parliament and this would be changed by means of a legislation in order to ensure that they do not commercialise the business sector. That is what we are facing Madam Chair.
That is what we will be facing in regards to the question that was raised by my colleagues. We want to see the Minister given powers to deal with these anomalies. Long ago, the Minister would only come on Wednesday just to come and sign papers and go back to his farms. We changed this in 1980 but the challenge that we faced as has been said by the Senators, is that people group and form a club and to have their own schools. These schools were discriminatory. The children who were able to access these schools worked for certain companies and were discriminatory. That is what we refused and said that the Minister should be given powers so that he cannot allow such treatment. If he cannot do that, he would come to Parliament and spell it out to say we do not agree with this since it is retrogressive. The orbit around the Bill shows that it wants to mould education under the realm of quality. That is what we all want but for the Minister to be deprived of powers to deal with those who are commercialising the education sector is not right. We have a Minister and that is the Minister we want to assist so that you cannot be cheated. We do not know who wrote this but on the issue of the Minister and the education that we are talking about, it should be children’s education. Education for children, even those who teach in schools are called teachers for children not for maidens.
We want to see good education for our children. Whatever is done in schools is not for the parents, it is for the students. The Minister is the one who should talk to the parents to understand the education system.
You need to address that.
*THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): I hear the submissions by
the Hon. Senators. I would love to have the powers that have been mentioned by Hon. Sen. Hungwe but I want Senators to appreciate that I have 9 500 schools. The trust schools that we are talking about which are said to be in the habit of constantly raising fees are less than a 100 countrywide. These are schools that are built by people who approach the Ministry and say they have monies and would want to build a school. Once they put in their funds, they come up with contracts and even proforma contracts which they do with people that have money or the elite in Zimbabwe, the elite society who want to send their children either at St. Georges, Peterhouse or Watershed schools. The schools are not only run by whites but they are also run by some of us blacks.
Even in the old Bill up to this current Bill, it says let us look at whether it is still procedural or out of order or that it is now beyond the reach of the rich to send their children there. Has it gotten out of hand to an extent that the elite can no longer afford fees at those schools? Let us come up with fees that enable them to be able to function. As a Ministry, we tend to tolerate that. As a Minister, my request to both august Houses is that as regards the 9 500 Government and church run schools, these are the schools where a father who is in Binga or Dotito can send his children to those particular schools. I am urging us to put our resources in those schools.
Even if I were to control these other schools, the majority of our people are not going to access those. That is what has been happening. Even if we are to bring the National Competitive Commission and work hand in glove with them and say such a school should charge at least $15 000 instead of $21 000 as fees, the majority of our people are not going to access those. So they must strike a balance between the investor and access to schools. I believe we have got enough systems but we may want to be more aggressive in engaging and getting them to regulate as provided for in that Act. We are saying Government schools should come up with facilities that are equal to private schools but they should not charge exorbitant fees. That is my view on this issue.
I would believe that the manner in which we talked about the National Competitive Commission that it should take a leading role is a good thing. There must be a balancing act because those ones also play a role so that sector can also continue to invest rather than for us to limit or curtail their capacity, willingness or motivation to do that. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: You see when I am in
this august House; we have people out there who believe they have sent us their representatives to represent their interests. There are times we must stand firm and others, we can let it go by but it could cause problems for our people. Minister, you have said there are those that you have said are ours. We have nothing called ours. We used to have Group 'A' schools that used to be for whites because they were for the elite and Group 'B' schools for the blacks. I would say to ensure that all schools are up to the right standard with the right facilities is a good issue but the point is that the Minister of Finance is not here. The Minister of Finance does not have money.
We clamour for the budgets to be increased but because of the economic situation we find that we do not have adequate financial resources. These schools cannot be equated to others. We are in an independent Zimbabwe. We should not have disparities between students that go to a Government and those that go to private schools. We have been advocating for a clustered society just after independence and we were talking about the issue of capitalism and socialism. We do not want a society or classes that are too wide. They are there, we cannot deny that fact and they will still be there forever but let us try to minimise the gap. Someone would have sent his child to a Trust School, in the middle while the child is now in Form Four, the school fees are hiked more than three times. The child would have done form one to three and the parents were affording – so the argument that why did you send the child to a Group A school is out.
This is a legitimate expectation because by then he was able to pay the fees – it is a legitimate expectation. This will just come unexpectedly because the owner of the school had decided to go on holiday to America so he hikes school fees to raise money so that they can enjoy themselves outside the country. This will affect a child’s education, that is why we are saying Minister you need to regulate all schools.
If I may ask, where is the difference between Ministry of
Education and Ministry of Health? I think that is where the issue is, the same Cabinet, the same Government should not give us distorted policies which show that we differ philosophically. Doctors who are at West End Hospital and Avenues Clinic are private hospitals; it is an individual’s investment but the Government still regulates those doctors. You tell them that it is your hospital and the doctors went to school on their own but they are not allowed to charge exorbitant fees to patients.
Doctors’ fees come from Government- where is the difference with private schools? Why do we not stop regulating doctors’ fees in private hospitals? We need you to have power not to vest all the powers in the Permanent Secretary- this Bill is giving the Secretary all the powers but in other Bills we hear of the Minister having most of the powers; where is the difference? Why is it that in this Bill we are talking about the Secretary in other Bills we talk much about the Minister?
The Secretary is a civil servant, he/she is not answerable to Members of Parliament but the Minister comes here and answers to our questions like we are doing now but the Secretary will not come here to respond to our question. Therefore, we urge you Minister to look closely into this Bill because we are very concerned. If it continues like this we will not be happy. I thank you.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam Chair. I want
to thank Hon. Sen. Chief Charumbira for buttressing - that is actually the reason why I rise up because we want as a Government to be consistent and our primary responsibility is to protect everyone. I will apologise later but I will expect the Minister to respond and address this issue in a non-conflicted way or rather not to give us the impression that he may be conflicted- probably vane chikoro. I am from the medical profession, ever since, it has only less than 100 000 people who are on medical aid and what proportion of the population is it, but we are seriously regulated by the Government, which is correct. I am one of the advocates who said we should be controlled rather than make services inaccessible to the general populace.
If you think because health munhu anofa, education tinofawo. I think we need to open up and say education is the same as health so there is no reason why you cannot regulate it because this is exactly what the Hon. Chief Charumbira said, is what is obtaining at the moment. Last term private schools were charging like $2 000, right now they are charging $35 000 and you say they are private institutions, we cannot put legislation or rules which are discriminative. I think this is policy inconsistency. I do not want to over emphasise the point but we are part of the Government and we should not allow such a thing to continue.
I would want to appeal to Hon. Senators to understand education is much more important than even the health. So we need really to make sure that we get a Bill which addresses every citizen not one which is discriminatory. I propose and submit that the Minster seriously brings in a clause to make sure that we see as legislators that there is enough regulation, otherwise this Bill is not even giving us what the people want – you just register?
Why do you register something which you cannot control? You bring in a monster and you cannot control the behaviour of that monster. We cannot allow that to happen Madam Chair. So the proposition by the Hon. Minister that it is private money that they have been invested – investment in health is in the tune of millions if not billions from private individuals but it is regulated. So that narrative, I think we should actually put it aside and address the needs of the people of Zimbabwe.
Thank you Madam Chair.
HON. SEN MAKONE: Thank you Madam Chair. I just wanted
to address the point being made by the Minister that he does not want to interfere with private citizens who invest their money in hundreds of millions and that they need to get a return on investment. Investment in education is like any other investment, all investment is done for a return on investment. It is just that they have chosen to put their money into education. They have done their sums and they have satisfied themselves that when they put their money in education they will get the kind of return that they want.
When they apply to the Ministry of Education, I want to believe that they present everything that they will have worked out and then you allow them to operate. You cannot then say after you have given them the permission to invest in education just like any other sector, you then say now you are on your own, you do what you want. Basically, you will be telling every investor in Zimbabwe that if they invest in any industry they are free to charge whatever prices they want afterwards, because they have done us a favour by investing in that area. Education in the private sector is a business like any other, so when they want to increase their fees, we are not saying that the Government should necessarily legislate the quantum but we want to see that it is reasonable and manageable. When you reach the stage where the fees are jumping from USD 2 000 to RTGs 35 000 a term, something is very wrong.
Minister, you know as well as I do that no one’s fortunes change by that amount inside three months because there is only three months’ difference between two terms. It is not possible, there should come a time when Government will say no, we understand that you want to change your fees but instead of going to RTGs 35 000, we suggest you go to RTGs 20 000 in order to give parents to recover, recuperate and work out other ways of putting that money together.
If you look at the people in this august House, most of their children have already gone through university. So we are not talking about our own children. We are talking about the children of the people of Zimbabwe who are still going to school. Our vested interest is in the population as a whole which I would like to think that the Minister is also. So that excuse of saying yes, you would like to have power but you are not going to take power because this is private sector investment. I am sorry, as Senate we do not to accept that one as an argument. – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – We will continue to say that investment in education is investment like any other business.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: Thank you Madam Chair. I just
want to add one or two words to say let us give the Minister power. The Minister said that we should focus on church schools and Government schools. Is it because it is a church school and not private? They would have brought their money just as private schools. They are church organisations and they are humble and malleable. We want to find out the power that the Minister has towards churches which cannot be exercised on private schools.
We are saying that we want to give you the power Minister; the mandate to intervene in private school issues as regards their school fees structures. Two weeks ago, they said we are going to pay an additional
$2000 and I have since moved my child because I am unable to afford it.
I am asked to add $2000 after two weeks and the Minister has no say.
Minister, I will give you this power, accept it and use it. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. J. HUNGWE: Hon. Chair, I rise for the second time. Maybe my issue was not properly understood as I was contributing. In this bill, we are talking about the rights, not of parents or anyone else but the rights of the children. As the Minister, you are expected by the entire nation to ensure that the children’s rights are upheld. Who will want to abuse the children’s rights? You have no moral obligation to listen to people that are eloquent in the English language but all we do is what is the benefit that the child is going to derive. As the august Senate, we are not waiting for anyone else except you the Minister. You can come and talk to us. They are not allowed to come here but you are the only person who is allowed.
You are told there is a Secretary in the Ministry who supervises but you are the one who runs the Education sector eagerly. It is not you who wants to give power to yourself. We are giving you the power, we are giving you teeth on behalf of the parents first and foremost but your first priority in terms of concern should be the rights of the children. Anyone who is against you in that regard should come here and hear it from the horse’s mouth. We want you to be totally empowered so that those who would have gone astray are brought back to line. We meet them, they spend a day at holiday resorts and clubs and spend a day drinking, enjoying the children’s money.
You have done very well Hon. Minister to come to us with this particular bill and we are giving you our concerns as the Minister responsible for our children’s rights. Ensure that you uphold the rights of the children and that you must have the powers so that they are not exploited. I thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF. MATHUPULA: Thank you very much
Hon. Chair. The issues that have been raised are very pertinent because the Constitution says we should be non-discriminatory in everything that we do, but I believe there is a lot that has been said to that. My question to the Minister, and what I needed clarity on is he said these people are operating more on a business model and more on a private investment model. How is the tax structure? Are there any taxes that they are paying when they sign these affiliations or whatever he was talking about? If they are actually in business, there should be something that they are helping the fiscus with. There are some schools in rural areas that cannot afford a bench but they can afford to fly overseas for holidays with the kids. So we need a situation where those same schools can empower the schools that have nothing. How is the tax structure like? What are they paying to affiliate? Thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE: Thank you Hon. Chair.
Hon. Minister, if you read in the Bible, Jesus teaches a parable that if you lose one sheep, you leave the 99 and go and look for the one. What am I saying Minister? Let us not leave those so called few sheep out of the flock of sheep because if we do so, we are creating a danger that they would become a law unto themselves. Past experience has taught us that private schools or the cheese association can be a menace if they so want.
I would want to refer the Minister to Section 75 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Subsection 2. It says every person has a right to establish and maintain at their own expense independent educational institution of reasonable standards, provided that they do not discriminate on any ground prohibited by the Constitution. If we talk of reasonable standards, the issue of fees becomes one of those reasonable standards. So, it has been provided by the Constitution and it is therefore imperative that we should ensure that these private institutions are subject to the Constitution of Zimbabwe and any law or laws of the nation.
So Minister, what we are saying to you is that the Constitution has provided that every organisation under the land of Zimbabwe is subject to constitutional scrutiny and the private schools should not be an exception. Secondly, we know that people are free to choose to go to a private school or not but there should be standards and it is the role of Government; it is your role Minister to promulgate such laws that protect the rights of those pupils that are attending those institutions.
The parents also have rights, they should not be abused by those so called schools. So, it is my submission Hon. Minister, that you also take into consideration the points that I have raised above.
*HON. SEN. J. HUNGWE: Thank you Madam Chair. I rise to
just follow the steps of others, literally speaking. Minister, you are aware about the way we were brought up, we went to communal schools, rural based schools. However, you would expect that since you are now a Minister and professor, your children should not go to the same schools that you went to but you now want the best for your children – which I also appreciate.
However, I am saying the rights of the children to education should be the same. I have heard here one of the chiefs saying that he withdrew his child from private school. If that child was brilliant, then probably he is going to be disturbed and he is going to perform below average because he had the thinking that it was the only best school, hence we are saying the children’s rights to education for those that are rich and those who are not should be the same
Maybe the Permanent Secretary may be doing this because he knows that Government pays schools fees for his or her child yet there are other poor parents who cannot afford such fees. Minister, you must accept the powers that we are giving so that tomorrow you will be answerable. We do not meet the Permanent Secretary, maybe he is actually laughing that the Minister is going to come under severe cross examination from the Hon. Members of the Senate and the National
Assembly. So Minister, our children’s rights to education should be the same.
*HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Madam Chair, we would want to
give the Minister more powers with regards to the issues of education. Those people who own private schools want to get rich out of their investment. Hon Minister is the custodian of the law; he has the power to do that. You are the one who should be looking and seeing what problems are arising in schools; our children should be the same, and they must be equal. There was a sad scenario at a certain school where I saw a child telling the lady teacher that she has no power over him, she can longer beat the child because it was now illegal. So, where will that child go? Children should have good laws that are beneficial to their upbringing.
I am happy Hon. Minister, that you are here because I have certain concerns as regards our children. Please, look after our children. I have read a section which says that once a child falls pregnant she should continue with their education. However, I think this child will be of bad influence to others. There must be a law that controls these children so that they are led in the right direction.
Minister, you have been given the power, take this power and use it…
THE TEMPORARY. CHAIRPERSON: Order, order! I think at
the moment we are trying to wind up Clause 8 and other clauses we will debate them as we get there. Hon. Senator, may you concentrate on Clause 8.
HON. SEN. CHIRONGOMA: Thank you Hon. Chair. I reiterate
the same points that I earlier own raised that should fees be raised, the Minister should have a final say. The fees should be uniform, we have brilliant children and they should be attending such schools.
*THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Hon. Chair, Clause 10 is
the one which stateS how fees are regulated. It is the one that speaks to the regulation of the fees for private schools. A lot of things have been said by the Hon. Senators and the input of what they have said is that we are not doing anything to regulate the private schools. However, the truth of the matter is that we are regulating them, we register them and we also look at their curriculum to see what it is that they are teaching.
On a day to day basis, we also find out to see if they are teaching well. Our officials are going to schools to maintain and monitor the quality of education that is being given in these schools.
There is a Senator who said that private schools now have almost a laissez faire attitude on the amount of fees that they can charge. They are actually closing the gap that existed since 2017 when the Pricing
Commission was replaced with the Competitiveness Commission, which means we are reinstating the regulation of the fees of the private sector. A lot of the Senators have referred to reasonableness as far as fees are concerned and that is exactly what Clause 10 is trying to say that there has to be reasonableness. Here there has to be a balance. We cannot regulate to a point where there is not going to be investment into education by the private sector.
Also Madam Chair, I would like Hon. Members of this House to understand that the current situation is unique in the sense that it is coming after changes that have taken place in the Monetary Policy. The changes that we have seen since October 2018 are such that if a school was charging $2 000 at that particular point in time, that school could continue to function had it not been for the changes in the Monetary Policy. Now, to expect that the same school with the level of investment as well as the expectations for continued investment by the school, to continue at that same level would be to kill the same school. In actual fact, I think there is a place for those private schools and we should not kill them with over regulation.
What we have provided in Clause 10 is reasonable enough with the Ministry working together with the Competitiveness Commission to ensure that there is reasonable levels of fees. This is what is obtaining in all the other sectors of the economy. As a nation, we have moved away from price controls because there are certain things we want to promote as far as investment is concerned. Realising that, this is why we have put in Clause 10, the role of the Competitiveness Commission definitely working with our Ministry to ensure that whatever fees or levies charged are reasonable and will on one end make sure that our citizens continue to send their learners to those private schools. At the same time, we have created space for them to continue to invest in that education. I was at St. Georges recently with His Excellency and they have given us a model for a science centre with eleven labs and different levels including a design lab. There was considerable investment there but what is needed to happen is to make sure that we continue to motivate that investment just like we are doing in all the other sectors.
There is a Senator who talked about conflict. Maybe my only conflict is the fact that I am looking for a balance between the need to promote investment and the need to maintain the fees at a reasonable level so that even our Senators and Ministers can still send their learners there.
The major issue of the right of the child can never be addressed through private investment in education. This is why I referenced the 9 500 schools that we collectively will have to ensure that we have developed in terms of their standards, in terms of the teachers that go there, in terms of infrastructure, classrooms and everything to make sure that there is opportunity for a learner in Binga which approximates the opportunity for a learner who is being sent by their parents to a private school. This is where the issue of the fundamental right of the child gets addressed. Within the context of our current economy and the steps that we have taken as Government in order to promote investment, the National Competitiveness Commission will do a good job as presented in Clause 10.
There were other issues that were raised regarding the right of the child. You will realise that non-exclusion is addressed, so no child will be sent home for non payment of fees and this Bill is taking care of that. I think as senators have already said, I think this is a progressive Bill Madam Chair. It is centred on the rights of the child and where private sector schools are concerned, Clause 10 which we have pre-empted tries to address that. Thank you Madam Chair.
HON. SEN. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Chair. I do not understand when the Minister says especially on the issue of monetary changes, does the Minister mean that other schools like church schools and Government schools were not affected? It looks like the Minister is protecting the private schools. Can the Minister explain to this House, which schools are more important over others because a parent has a right to choose where he or she wants to take her child. A parent can choose a private school or a church school. What is the difference? Were they not affected? Is it the private schools only that were affected by the monetary issues?
HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: I did not get a response. I had asked, are they paying any company taxes or taxes to Government for education. Thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF NGUNGUMBANE: The Minister has
addressed the situation but we are saying the Minister must monitor the fees increases at all schools taking into account the location and place of those schools.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Thank you Madam Chair. Let me apologise, I overlooked the issue which was raised by Hon. Sen. Nhema about the differences between public as well as faith-based schools and the private schools. Madam Chair, there is a rationale for .differentiating these two. We as Government have taken a deliberate stance to say our schools and those of faith based institutions should provide education to the generality of Zimbabwe. In order to ensure that access we pay all the teachers in faith-based schools as Government. We support them when they take learners who are indigent and those supported by the BEAM programme, which is run by the Ministry of Social Welfare. We support these schools.
As Government we do not invest any resources in the private schools. We have withdrawn our teachers from them I think from 2016/17. We do not support them in any way as far as teachers are concerned. We do not put BEAM money into that system. What we have done here is almost to say there is a road where traffickers will go and pay toll fees and it is their choice. As Government we then have an obligation to provide the alternative. Our alternative that takes care of the needs of a learner in Binga or anywhere is the Government and the faith-based school.
I hear some say even a child who is in Binga should be able to go to Peterhouse. The reality of the situation is that cannot happen because a father who is in Binga is paying $15/20 in a Government school. If you are saying we should put children who can afford $100 at Peterhouse, it means I then have to pay the Peterhouse bill. This is where I said a school in Binga should have good facilities. This Bill is about Government funding for basic education. That is what it is about. Let us make sure that those schools which can be accessed by everyone are capacitated in terms of having teachers, the development of teachers and all the necessary facilities, and closer to the people. That is what the Bill is all about.
THE TEMPORARY PRESIDENT OF SENATE (HON. SEN.
MOHADI): Please Hon. Minister, could you stick to one language.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: So the issue of taxes, we do not exempt them from tax because they are for profit so they have to pay their taxes. That is not a problem. What we exempt from paying taxes are the nonprofit schools and that is what church schools are. They do not distribute any dividends to anybody but these which exist for a rate of return on investment have to be taxed. There should not be any exemption and again, as far as the regulation is concerned, all the normal regulation we are doing but we have put them in the same category as the other commercial entities which are now controlled by the Competitiveness Commission. Thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: My supplementary is to say I hear the Minister referring much to Binga. In reference to that Binga is the place or area where a parent cannot afford to take a child to school or a better school, meaning they are poor. As a Government are you now perpetuating or encouraging that we should enact a policy that creates classes and division where those that are poor like in this reference, those from Binga shall remain poor for good and be in that low class where they should send their children to a school that charges $15 and get the least quality of education. Whereas, some from some parts of the country are managing to take their children to better schools where they are going to get better jobs and those from Binga will always be garden boys and sweepers.
The Government should create a policy that will enable and give an opportunity to all children. Classes should not be made by policies. Classes should be made by some other competitive advantages. If a Government can now create policies that perpetuate classes then we cannot be a good country. We cannot be a country that deliberately puts policies that say, we have the poor class and those in private schools for upper class. I thank you.
HON. SEN. MAKONE: I just want to clarify something that the Minister probably misunderstood in our argument. We are not saying that private schools should not charge fees that are higher than Government schools. No, that is not what we are saying. One of your responses was that there was a change in the monetary policy, which instead of paying in US$ now we are paying in RTGs.
What we are saying here is that if the fees were say US$1 000, this terms it must still be US$1 000 equivalent, not three and half times because what most schools have done is to move from US$1 000 to charging in RTGs equivalent to US$3 500. That is a very big jump. It is unaffordable even by upper middle class parents who would normally afford to pay those kinds of fees. That is where we want Government to come in and say if we moved from US$ to RTGs keep the equivalence in place. Do not put three and half times what you were charging before.
This is the moan and groan of most of the middle class families.
They are not saying that Government must necessarily interfere but they are saying the change of the fees has not been proportionate to what they should be paying. The jump has been too much. When the bills were sent, at that time the exchange rate was about 10:1, it jumped from US$1 000 to $35 000 bond which would have made it US$3 500 but I am sure now because of the change again in the exchange they will take care of the other 4%. What we are saying is that the fees must stay at US$1 000 but they must pay the equivalent in local currency but not to allow them to make those kinds of US$ jumps as well.
HON SEN. CHIEF MATHUPULA: Thank you Madam Chair.
Thank you Minister for the clarity on taxes which I wanted to understand. So you are saying they are paying a company tax, but I what suggest is that there is no way where that tax can be somehow a way of adjusting it to ring fence a certain amount for the development of these other schools which are not doing well. I think we have a state of emergency in rural areas when it comes to schools and there has to be a way to raise money to build school and buy furniture. There are these big ‘guns’ who have got so much money to invest in private schools, there has to be a way to get something to invest for those who has nothing. I thank you.
HON. SEN TIMVEOS: Thank you Madam Chair. I heard the
Minister mentioning that Section that the Senate is discussing can be managed by Section 10, possibly if you can explain so that Senators can understand where you are coming from. Is the Commission going to also manage the school fees to try and regulate it?
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam Chair. I
think we need to make clarification because it is with a sense of disappointment to hear some of the responses which I am getting from the Minister. I am sure he is doing his best but I also have to express that I am disappointed. We are not saying private schools should pay equivalent to what is happening in Government schools, but for the Hon.
Minister to say his main reason to say we cannot regulate fees is because Government does not put anything on the private side.
I am saying in the health sector, does Government put money in Avenues Clinic, West End and all those private health institutions? We are talking about policy consistence as a Government and you are part of the Government, I think you should be aware of that. I think that is not a good argument. If he has got a better argument - I am sorry to say that, he should actually give us so that we can push.
We are here to protect everyone, like what the Hon. Members said it is not about my children. It is about the fact that policy must be uniformly applied. So the fact that Government is not putting anything in private schools it is also not putting anything in other sectors such as health but Government is regulating bakeries and all those other private businesses. Why should, just a small clique be an exception? This is what we are saying as a Government and we are part of the Government. We do not allow such a scenario to happen and we need the Minister to address our concerns. Those are genuine concerns, not for us but for the constituencies which we represent which is the country. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam Chair.
With regards to my reference to Binga, I really apologise that the Hon. Senator felt that I was saying that because I would prefer Binga to remain poor. Remember what I then said, I could have said Gokwe, Rushinga or Mbire in that regard but remember what I said, it is not realistic for this House to expect that we can reduce or regulate the private schools to where even a child who is currently paying RTGs100 per term can go to that school. It is not realistic for the reasons that I have stated.
When I mentioned Binga, I also added to say that as a
Government, we need to provide schools in Binga that will allow access and opportunity that is comparable to the private schools. That is our responsibility as Government. This is why we have built Kokolodza in
Binga, which is a state of the art school which we are going to be opening very soon. We have also built in many other parts of the country same of state of the art schools, taking responsibility as Government to say we are going to provide the basic right of the learner in all parts of the country. I say not realistic because there is an expectation of return on investment by the private sector.
In response to Hon. Sen. Makone, the issue of reasonableness is what we are pushing here and we are saying the Commission should provide for that. The Commission should provide for reasonableness just like what it is supposed to provide for reasonableness in other sectors of our economy and that is its role. It should provide for reasonableness. It does not make sense for a school that was charging US$1 000 to then say now we are charging RTGs 35 000, it does not make sense and this is where we are providing for this Commission working with the Ministry to approve the fees. This is why I am saying Section 10 is important in response to the Hon. Senator.
Section 10 is saying we regulate, it is not a laissez faire thing.
Section 10 provides for that and again Hon. Sen. Mavetera, we are not saying they charge as they want, but in Section 10 we are saying that Commission regulates the fees and the Commission can do a number of things. It can revoke, if they have approved before, it can revoke its approval of a fee or levy, so it can force a reduction. It can fix the amount of any fee and it can also fix the purpose of a fee. In cases where there has been an excess, that amount can be refunded to the parents; according to the Act that sets up that Commission.
So we are saying working with this Commission there can be regulations of these private sector schools but we have to say we are a country that is saying we are open for business and let us provide for investment in education so that we continue to have these private investments. It serves a certain purpose in our education sector but the fundamental thing that we have to start doing now as a nation is to look into how we adequately fund, as a Government, basic education, which in this Bill is defined as ECD A to Form Four. We have to start thinking about this. Remember when this Bill was initially crafted it had an
Education Fund. That section has been expunged but I have started a process because both Cabinet and the National Assembly said we could work on the Education Fund or whatever name we want to give it through administrative means. We did not legislate for example, the Aids levy but it is there. So, we are not saying we will not regulate but we are saying we will regulate and make sure that these fees are reasonable, there will not be excessive charges in these private schools.
They have to justify whatever increases that they make. Indeed Hon. Senator, Section 10 is the one that deals with these regulations through the Commission. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: Thank you. I just wanted to find out whether the Minister has powers on Section 10. We were saying the Minister must have power. We are not saying that private schools must not charge fees which they want but we are saying if it was $5 000, it cannot be increased to $35 000.
THE CHAIRPERSON: I do not think it is on Clause 8. That
will come on Clause 10. I think you can raise it there as I said earlier on.
Can we proceed.
Clause 9 put and agreed to.
On Clause 10:
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Hon. Chair, I think that
all the debate that took place pertained to Clause 10. Clause 10 is not saying anything. It talks about the creation of a commission and it then deals with its competitiveness. We are representing the people in this august House. No one is fighting personal issues. We are speaking on behalf of the constituents. Such issues should go back to the people because with this commission, if the people at Charumbira Primary School in Masvingo are not happy about the fees that should be paid and they look for this commission, where would they find the commission? The commission will be based in Harare. I do not believe that it will decentralise to all schools nationwide. We are talking about access to education and the commission. Is the commission readily accessible to the people?
I beg you Minister that you hear our plight. You should have said we need to revisit this and see how best it can be recast so that the people can get access to their Minister. The commission may be present but it will be a bonus, that is if people want to use that leeway. The people should go to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. If he then delegates to the commission, it will be up to him but people would have approached the Minister directly – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] - If the commission then says you go directly to this particular school, we want to see the involvement of the Minister when such issues are being dealt with.
If we look at magistrates courts, there are so many of them nationwide that we see people in the communal lands saying that if you want me to go and appear before the magistrate, I will not go there. I would want things that are dealt with there and then and are easily accessible in the districts. A commission is not going to be found at district level. I would want to say Minister, you are our relative. It may not be you personally but it came from the Cabinet. You may have opposed the clause but you cannot confess that to us.
Out of love, please reconsider and allow us to come directly to the Minister. If you are going to use the commission to bring in changes to your people, so be it but I will not want this to sail through as it is. If you were to do that, we would have let the people of Zimbabwe down. In truth we would have become cowards. We should not say school fees whether public or private should be decided by a commission. There is some mischief that has to be cured. When you bring the Bill, you want it concluded but it will be more heroic to say no I do not want this.
The Senate is the Upper House and I will liken it to the Supreme
Court. Once we accept it here, God has accepted it. The National Assembly may pass it knowing that the Senate will have a chance to reexamine it. If we allow it to sail through as it is Minister, we will not be happy. There are very few Bills where six or more chiefs stand up and plead with you – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] - There are very few Bills where you find members from both sides of the House applaud the changes that we are clamouring for. It shows that the people are for this. Go back and tell the Cabinet point blank that I could not do anything, Senators unanimously said we should recast this section and I should not deny that. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: Thank you. I come back with the same point. The way I understand the commission is, it could be private which means that the Minister may not have power over the commission. As the august House, we are against that idea and this is our plea. We are saying the power should be resident in the Minister’s office because he is our representative in Cabinet. He is a member of the Executive. We do not want a stand alone or a private thing which is that the private schools are going to be monitored by yet another independent commission. This is akin to two private institutions supervising each other. We are saying Minister, understand us well as Senators, Chiefs, parents, people, and owners of this country. We are saying you are in charge of all the schools in Zimbabwe.
Before we distinguish between private and public schools, we are saying allow them as private schools to come up with their own fee structure. Once they become exorbitant, the Minister should intervene.
The Senators should appeal to the Minister to say, is this good for the benefit of Zimbabwe? Even when schools are going to open, private schools in Zimbabwe are asking for 35 000 dollars as fees. We have no other country to go to, there is xenophobia in South Africa, they are being assaulted. We were born and bred in Zimbabwe and we want to spend our time in Zimbabwe. With those words Hon. Minister, I give you the power to do away with the Commission unless if you are saying that you have power to supervise these commissions. I thank you.
*THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): I concede that the
amendment is not completely speaking to the role of the commission and what the commission can do. In order for me to give a full answer of that, I wanted to refer back to Section 21 of the principal Act, the one that we are changing. I have therefore asked for the principle Act to be delivered so that we can see because this is just talking to the replacement of a name, one name with another name. So, we really
want to go back to the principal Act to see exactly what it says and then we can have a reasonable conversation.
So, I seek leave of the House to put aside this particular section for now so that we can go to the next section and then we come back once the principal Act has been delivered. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHABUKA: I hear the Minister saying that we can remove this Act and we move…
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: The Minister did not say
that he was going to remove; he said that he will defer. Defer simply means to put aside.
HON. SEN. CHABUKA: He may defer but the fear is that it might be smuggled. We are voicing our concerns as the people.
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: We have accepted the
deferment of the clause but we want some clarification from the Minister. Is the Minister saying that in the principal Act there are certain things that we have removed so that it is read in conjunction with the other? As far as that one is concerned, we are in agreement. If anything relates to this debate, if it is importing from the one that you have deferred then we can continue. I thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: The expectation is that the principal Act will be delivered in a few minutes so that maybe we can come back but in the mean time, we can consider the other clauses. That is the leave of the House that I was asking for. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: The problem is that this is an important Bill hence our concerns. When the principal Act comes, we will then see that it is open, these things that you passed were not included. We cannot go back technically because we have lost on this one. We are saying, let us put a stop to this Bill because we may be affected by the principal Act in terms of a certain clause. We will run into problems with technicalities and you will tell us that it has already been passed. We want transparency, we want to digest over this and then it would be brought. We can spend a night here rather than for us to just go over the Bill because that may be detrimental to our cause. I thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Madam Chair, I am saying I have made
a mistake of not bringing the principal Act. I have sent a message now for that Act to be brought so that we can read from it.
*HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Hon. Chair, my fears have been
confirmed. I want to have the principal Act and go over it over night. We are now going to be forced to pass this Bill. We want time to digest what these clauses and the principal Act is. This is an important Bill; we may never be afforded the chance to go back to it.
HON. PROV. MAVIMA: I hear what Hon. Mavetera is saying
but my idea was, so that we read from the original, that Section 21.
HON. SEN. MAKONE: Hon. Minister, you are already familiar with the Act referring to how commissions operate. As Senators here, we are not all familiar with how it works. So when this Act comes here, we are begging leave to go and read this Act over night to see how it then relates to our concerns. Tomorrow, we will continue with this Act.
We fully understand that schools open next week but if the Bill had come on time maybe we would have the time. What we are asking is, we do not want to be stampeded into making a decision today without fully understanding everything that has to do with the Commissions Act.
Thank you Madam Chair.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): What I was referring to is
the principal Education Act that we are repealing. That Section that talks about the role of the Commission is the one that I wanted to seek leave of the House so that our original Education Act, the one that we are repealing – because that section will continue as it is. What it is substituting is the Pricing Commission that used to exist with the National Competitiveness Commission, but the role in terms of regulation is going to be the same. It is a very small section that we are talking about which I had wanted to present to the House so that the House can decide whether there is adequacy there as far as the role of that Commission and Ministry is concerned.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Madam Chair, I have
understood what the Minister has said. You said if it has come to the reform of the Bill, then you would want it to be incorporated in the Act and this is your issue Hon. Minister. We are saying, you have a chance now to ensure that if there is a commission that does that, we are saying we want you to change that. The power should not be housed in the Commission but the principal Bill will come and say that the roles and functions of the Commission remain the same but there has been a change in name.
If possible Minister, the issue is let us change the powers of the commission and we are saying we want you Minister to be the responsible person. It has now gone beyond the change of name. We are saying if your principal Act says that, we are now much clever today. That is why people were behaving as they pleased because there was this loophole. We are now saying, we are putting a stitch in time to save nine as an august House. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. MAKONE: Minister, it appears we are now talking the same language. You were saying that all of our concerns and grievances were going to be addressed in Section 10. Our concerns are not being answered by Section 10. Section 10 simply talks about the change in names. Our concern is that, the commissions as independent bodies, we do not want these commissions to be dealing with independent schools. We want the Minister of Education, whether it is you today or anyone who comes tomorrow to look into the issue of raising of the school fees and that these are being done in a reasonable manner such that the same parents who were sending the children to the same schools are not heavily burdened.
We want to talk of the education issue as it is in the Act. The issue of education affects Zimbabwean children from tender age up until they become professors at tertiary education. If the parent was told that $3 000 is the fees per year, it should be maintained as $3 000 per year whether it is Rand, Kwacha or RTGs. There should be an equivalence of that particular currency that it has been charged in, instead of fees being changed willy nilly overnight to $3 000 in terms of foreign currency. If my child was going to Chirodzo Primary School, I will not morn because I cannot send my child there. If I was sending my child to Peter House, paying a thousand US dollars, I should be able to afford to send my child to Peter House so that only the children of the elite will remain in school. Anyone who has afforded to pay the initial fee should be able to afford a school fee adjustment. The Minister should deal with that issue in the private sector and not the Commission. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam Chair.
I hear what the Hon. Senators are saying. The status quo is the one that had serious problems because now there was a gap. To use the terminologu of lawyers, there was a lacuna because from 2017 when the Commission changed and a new Act was enacted , there was virtually no regulation that could take place because that regulation had been given to the Commissioner. The reinstatement of the authority of the Competitiveness Commission provides for that regulation.
I now have the principal Act, with the leave of the House, I could go through that Section 21 in order for the senators to understand what role the Commission places and what role also the Ministry plays in controlling the fees. In many ways, this is quite robust Madam Chair and does not really relegate everything to the Commission. There is an appeals process that is outlined here which comes back to the Ministry and the Minister. With the leave of the House, Madam Chair, I could just pin point what this Act is saying. Thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF. CHARUMBIRA: There is no problem.
We have a spirit of unity. If the Minister has the information he can share with us.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVHIMA): Thank you Madam Chair
for the opportunity to read in detail Section 21 of the Education Act and it is talking to fees and levies payable at non-Government schools. You will realise that now the non-Government schools is a reference to private schools. We have put together the Government schools and the faith-based schools in one category. This now refers to private schools. Under one (1) it says in this Section, Consumer Price Index as the meaning given to it by Section 17 (a) of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act and Commission means the National Incomes and Pricing Commission established in terms of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act. This is where the amendment is coming.
- Subsection 2 says subject to this section no responsible authority shall charge any fee or levy or increase any fee or levy in respect of any pupil attending a non-Government school, in this particular case it is a private school, unless it makes prior application therefore to the Commission in writing through the Secretary setting out the detail of the fee or levy or increase thereof. The basis upon which it is calculated and proof that its proposal has been approved accordingly with the section 3 (b) and the Commission has approved the fee or levy or increase thereof, as the case may be.
- the Commission shall not approve any increase of fees or levy sought in respect of the next term of the non-Government school concerned unless the increase of such fees and levies are justified by reference to some basis other than the application of the Consumer Price Index and the proposal to increase fees or levies has been approved by a majority of the parents at a meeting of the school parents assembly attended by not less than 20% of the parents.
- the Commission shall without delay consider any application made in terms of subsection 2 and if it is satisfied that the proposed increase is fair and reasonable having regard to (a) the cost of operating and maintaining the school and (b) any programme for improving the facilities provided at the school and (c) any representations made by or on behalf of parents or pupils related to the proposed increase and (d) any other relevant economic factors justifying the proposed increase, it may approve the increase or amend the figure representing the interests and fix a new figure which shall not be below the level of fees or levies that may be fixed in terms of subsection 2 or 3, reject the application for the increase.
- if at any time the Commission is satisfied that its approval of any fee or levy or increase thereof was on the basis of false or incorrect information supplied by the responsible authority of the non-
Government school, which is private in this case, concerned or amounts received by a responsible authority by way of any fee or levy or increase thereof, approved in terms of this Section have not been applied (i) to any purpose that was specified by the responsible authority in the application in terms of subsection 2 as the purpose to which the fee or levy or increase therein, as the case may be would be applied, or (ii) in the interest of pupils attending the private school concerned, or (iii) the school has charged unauthorized fees or levies or both the Commission made by written notice to the responsible authority concerned, do any one or more of the following as may appear to it appropriate (a) revoke its approval of the fee or levy or increase therein, (b) fix the amount of any fee and additionally or alternatively any levy that maybe charged by the responsible authority concerned, (c) fix the purpose to which any fee or levy or increase thereof maybe applied by the responsible authority concerned and (d) cause the excess amount to be refunded to parents or credit to the following term and the responsible authority concerned shall comply with any such notice.
- Any person who contravenes this section or fails to comply with any notice in terms of subsection 5 shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine equivalent to the excess amount charged or imprisonment for a period not exceeding six months or to both such fine and such imprisonment.
Madam Chair, that is Section 21 - let me quickly go to section 22 because it talks about…
HON. SEN. NCUBE: On a point of order, can we have the copies because it is not easy to follow. I thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVHIMA: I think with your instruction the
Parliament administration can make this available.
THE TEMPORARY CHARPERSON (HON. SEN. MOHADI):
Can they make it available now so that the Hon. Members can have a chance to look at it and research. Is it possible to bring the copies?
HON. PROF. MAVHIMA: That is an answer that can only be given by Parliament administration.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: The Administration
reports that copies of that section are not available at the moment but they were given to the Members some time long back and you were supposed to have read this Chapter together with the Bill.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: On a point of order.
Hon. Chair, here we are referring to the principal Act, when was it passed in this House so that you can refresh your mind and see that you are being unfair to us. Which year was it passed in Parliament, even the staff, does not know where the chapter is. This Act has been operating for years, meaning to say we need to refresh our memory and that is fair. I think to be fair you, cannot say we were given that document- that is being unfair to Members.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Madam Chair, I think we talked
about this issue of documents not being given to us last week even weeks before – I think this should actually have stopped but now to be shortchanged to say we gave you when it has not come to us, I think it is not fair. This Hon. House also needs to be respected. I think it is not proper and I do not think we will take it lightly for us to be pushed to discuss issues of such fundamental importance without due research.
Thank you Madam Chair.
HON. SEN. DUBE: Thank you Madam Chair. Why are we fast
tracking, why can we not take our own time? Please Minister, give us time as Senators, we are the seniors in this Parliament. There is no Xenophobia coming to this House. We want to run away, for what?
THE TEMPORARYCHAIRPERSON: Order, order, our
Administration is saying that it is not possible to have copies now or tomorrow. We have to request reprinting of copies of the principal Act.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Hon. Chair, let us not
complicate a very straight forward, simple and clear matter. We are not asking for the principal Act, we want the page with that section we are discussing here. If we say the Act, it becomes complicated and it will be impossible to do as of now. We want only that part which was read by the Minister, which is a page; just photocopy that one sheet of paper not the whole Act.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Minister, would you
want to respond to this?
PROF. MAVIMA: Madam Chair, photocopies can be done as
quickly as possible so that all Members can get that Section 21 and 22.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: With leave of the
House, can we defer Section 10 at the moment and then deal with the rest of the clauses. After finishing then we come back. Is there any objection?
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Hon. Chair, my
submission, if any clause that we are going to debate does not relate or there are no consequential issues arising from the one that we have deferred we can proceed. If there is a problem we stand advised.
Clauses 11 and 12 put and agreed to.
On Clause 13:
HON. SEN. NCUBE: Thank you Madam President. On Clause
13, I realise there are languages to be taught in schools. On these languages, can the Minister explain because I do not see any sign language or Braille? Can the Minister tell us whether all these languages are going to be taught in schools excluding sign language and Braille? I thank you.
HON. SEN. MAKONE: Thank you Madam Chair. I am also
coming to the section on languages; Section 62, languages to be taught in schools 1A, every school shall endeavour to teach every officially recognised language. I am asking for the Minister to give us an honest answer here. Do we have the teachers for all the languages that are taught in Zimbabwe at all levels that are qualified to teach in schools or is this aspirational because there is a danger that if a language is missing in a school there is nothing to stop a parent taking that school to court to say that this language is not being taught here. We would like the Act that we are putting in today to protect both the parents and the schools because I do not believe that at this moment in time, in Zimbabwe we do have qualified teachers for every language that is in the Constitution, that is a national language. If it is inspirational then I will not have problems with that.
HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: Thank you Hon. Chair. While I
congratulate and applaud the Minister for inserting this provision that acknowledges that the Constitution has now recognised 16 languages, I however, have got reservations as alluded to by the previous speaker on Clause 6 to bring on board all officially recognised languages which means 16. Of late, we had a lot disparities where some schools were even compelled to teach three, four, one and some two in the same country governed by the same policy.
Is it not too ambiguous to say all schools should teach all 16 languages? How feasible and practicable is that? Are we prepared as a nation with human resources and the material resource for the said languages? If my memory does not betray me, since the bringing up of most languages that were formally marginalised which are bulky nothing much was done by Government to promote human resource, that is to have enough teachers who can teach across the country from those formally marginalised languages, be it material. Most schools from those formally marginalised tribes are still struggling with teaching material but now if that same language which is struggling and its place of origin is being compelled to be taught across the country, are we going to have enough textbooks, let alone teachers? If no Hon. Minister, are we not then going to relent back to the previous status quo where those giant languages that had been in the system for so many years with enough material, be it human or reading material are going to dominate across the country at the expense of the formally marginalised languages, thereby relenting back to the painful status quo.
Hon. Minister, we have walked this road before, we know what it takes to be left out from the main stream education system but we had made a lot of achievements now that most languages are now in the system. I would have loved maybe some spellings that will guarantee that we will not have a few languages compelled across the country at the expense of some other languages which maybe not be taught across because of the excuse to say material is not enough.
Yes, the policy might be speaking to say they should be taught across but because the material is not enough then Government will say when and when the material is enough, they are going to be taught leaving them outright.
Issues to do with language, Hon. Minister, is always misconstrued by many. When we speak like this, some will think you are being tribalistic but that is not the case; we pride in these languages, everyone prides in his own language and everyone wants to see his own language being promoted to the infinite levels. We would have been happy if the Minister could guarantee and assure this House to say how he is going to practicalise to make sure that some schools will not be compelled to teach more than others. If school A is teaching 16 languages, I will be very glad to see school B and C teaching 16 languages but not a situation whereby school A is teaching 16 then some schools are teaching less than that in the same play field, same environment. It becomes a disadvantage to some learners. I thank you.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Thank you Madam. In fact, what is hiding
here for us not to see is that the section says endevour. Endevour does not say it must be taught, it simply says try hard to teach. So the whole thing is really cosmetic, it is not clear. We need something which can be put in a better phrase. Hon. Minister, is there any way that you can clarify this better than the word endevour? I thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Hon. Chair, this debate is
addressing people’s concerns; this Bill is for the people. I do not see the legal drafters in this House but I see the Legal Counsel’s office is here. On 62, you say every school shall endevour. Shall and endevour, I think you need to find better terms because endevour as was said by the Senator means you are going to try or to put effort. Shall means that you are compelled to do it. So, the words shall and endevour are not the right words, you need to find alternative words. Shall enforces but endevour is saying if possible. It is not your business Minister, you are an Education Minister; it is for drafters.
Under A, it is saying to teach and it says the language of instruction, next it says the medium of instruction. They are just playing around with semantics. What are the languages of instruction and the medium of instruction - what is the difference? What is the difference between teaching and instruction?
Under A, in future the drafters should be careful of those words. A and B - reading between the lines, it is a challenge. Is teaching giving instructions because after teaching, you then go on to say that children should be educated using their language but you are saying that for the examination there is a particular language. This is confusing, you are also talking of using medium of instruction for the young ones, this is not clear; I think as drafters, they should be assisted.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Thank you Madam Chair. On this issue
of language, the contradictions are immense because I hear one Hon. Sen. Chief who has been talking to me about the importance of promoting languages saying to me, wait until you have enough resources. That is not at all accepted. He is even indicating that there are places where we have neglected in terms of the teaching and learning of some languages, but he says wait until we have resources so that you can go forward. We will not achieve any headway if we wait for every cent to be available before we go into our schools and say let us teach these languages. Having said that, let me say that we have made a lot of headway on a number of languages that were marginalised before.
We now have instruction to Grade 7 for quite a number of languages. I concede that there are others where we have not made that headway. We have also made sure, especially in the marginalised schools that the teaching and learning materials, particularly those that go to grade 7 have also been made available. We have progressively done that. Additionally, we took a deliberate stance to train the teachers on these languages and we designated Great Zimbabwe University for that purpose.
However, the University of Zimbabwe has been proactive as far as this is concerned. The Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development has also taken a deliberate stance to ensure teachers coming from colleges will be taught at least three local languages so that they are able to give instruction when they leave college. So there is a lot that Government is doing and also plans to do. Accordingly, I really object to a situation where we are being told to wait until we have all the resources because we will wait for decades. Let us use the resources that we have to progressively make sure that we are complying with our Constitution.
Then on the issue of endeavour, it is in there for the purposes of the reality that given resource limitations not every school can be able to teach all the sixteen languages at the same time. We have to do this progressively. So that is why endeavour is there. Teach every officially recognised language so they should strive to teach every officially recognised language but we are realising that resource limitations will not allow them to immediately implement the teaching of the sixteen languages. The sixteen languages, which the Hon. Senator asked about includes sign language. Braille is not a language but it talks to materials that are written in such a way that the visually impaired can read them. On ensuring that the language of instruction shall be the language of examination, it actually means that where you teach in chiVenda, chiTonga or Chishona the language of instruction should be the same for the examination that will be written.
On (c), where it says ensure that the mother tongue is to be used as a medium of instruction at early childhood education, we are saying where chiTonga or chiChangni is predominant, our schools, at the infant module should teach all subjects in the mother tongue, which means if you are in Chiredzi where chiChangana is the predominant language then the instruction at early childhood level should be the mother tongue and this should apply everywhere in the country. Then we go further to say school curricula shall, as far as possible reflect the culture of the people of every language used or taught in terms of that section. That is my response. We are training teachers and we have a very aggressive programme. I have an implementation matrix for rolling out the languages and that we are sticking to. I am sure that within the next five years we will cover most of the languages up to about form 4. I thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: Thank you Madam Chair. In
my debate I did not mean that some languages should be left out in the meantime. There is no way I can agitate for that as one from the formerly marginalised languages chiTonga. If I agitate for that, there are high chances that my language can be one of those that will be left behind so I cannot think like that. However, my intervention was to highlight the danger Hon. Minister that is obtained in the words of the said section. Intervention on the word endeavour, you highlighted what I meant and you agreed that the said resources that I talked about are not adequate, be it textbooks or teachers.
The fear arises from the technicalities on implementing the same section. One would legally excuse that if chiTonga is not being taught in Gweru it is because we do not have enough teachers and the same word endeavour would qualify that, though it would come at the expense of the speakers of that language which is not adequately funded. My wish was to see spellings that would be compelling government to swiftly move to fund those formerly marginalised languages. Wording to do with must and shall but not to aspire, not to endeavour because once you put such words it means Government will be compelled to make sure that human resource is adequate for those same languages to be taught across. For as long as it is left as an endeavour then it leaves a loophole in implementation and a loophole where no one can stand even in a court of law to sue Government for not doing such.
My submission Hon. Minister is to consider the revision of that terminology where it leaves it as an endeavour but to compel Government to make sure that they fund and thereby addressing the dictates of the Constitution on the founding principles that is Chapter 3 I guess or section 3, I cannot remember. It compels Government to move very fast in funding those formally marginalised languages so that they are also adequately taught.
Imagine Hon. Minister if Tonga was being compelled to be taught in Chiredzi to the Shangani language speakers, then the Shangani fails to find its way into Binga because we cannot find teachers who can teach
Shangani and we cannot find books that can be used to teach in schools.
How will they feel? Tonga is being taught in a Shangani area then Shangani cannot find its way to Binga. It becomes an injustice. That is the plea. It is very technical to some who cannot see it, but it leaves a loophole for one to maneuver and work his way scot free. No one can sue the person for not addressing that. I thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Hon. Chair, to compel every school to
teach 16 officially recognised languages at a stroke is next to an impossibility. As legislators, we need to look at what is possible and let me assure this House that our most recent education policy which is found in our curriculum framework, indicates that we will progressively develop languages but taking into consideration of the areas where they are dominant. I want also to assure this august House that I have an implementation matrix on the languages which on a weekly basis I am looking at to see how far we have gone.
Matters that are not taken care of by this Bill can be taken up through the development of appropriate policy and we have developed a language policy. For example on the issue of the training teachers - it says we will provide the necessary materials and teachers but in a progressive manner. This is why I referred to the training that we are providing to teachers at various institutions.
This is why I have said we have taken a deliberate stance to have even item writers for the various languages and we are using national resources in order to make sure that the books for teachers and learners and other materials for the various languages are made available. At the moment, I am really happy with the progress that we have made. Like I said, give it another five years, we will have developed our indigenous languages to Form 4 level and then we will continue until we have also covered A’ level. Thank you.
HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Hon. Minister, I do not think that the Senators meant that each school should have 16 languages. I think what the Senators are saying is that if it is a Tonga community they must be taught by a Tonga teacher. If it is a Shona community they must be taught by a Shona teacher. What was happening previously was that somebody possibly from Matebeleland who speaks Ndebele and English goes to teach children that speak Shona in Mutoko and it takes time to understand that teacher. So what the teacher is now doing is to impose Ndebele and English on the children and they end up forgetting their culture.
Look at Zimbabwe right now, we do not really understand our culture and we want to enhance that culture by being taught and our children understanding that teacher from the same community. This is what we are saying and the Constitution is really clear that these 16 languages should be respected, and mechanisms should be in place but we cannot say every language be taught - we are looking at communities here. I thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: I would like to thank the Hon. Minister for his response. One thing I quoted from his response is that maybe I miss the implementation matrix which may speak to my worry. What I would have wanted to get from the Hon. Minister is the assurance of how he is going to standardise this whole matrix.
Assurances coming from the previous practice whereby, for example, in Binga a school or learners are compelled to learn English, their Tonga and another language which were three. These are Grade 7 learners. The same children from another school somewhere will be learning English and their mother language. These are learning three. Some in the same level, Grade 7 are learning two. Are we giving those children an advantage? That was the plight.
My worry is that because of this endeavour word which does not compel outright, which means those languages with enough resources would be spread across the country and the formerly marginalised languages which do not have enough material will not manage to find their way across the country which literally translates that some schools will not learn an equal number of languages against others. Already, that is not just. Grade 7 learners sit for the same exam at the end of the year but these are compelled to more workload against another Grade 7 child somewhere. What it speaks to is that this child is over burdened and as such the quality of passes that we are going to get from that child who is learning more is not comparable to the other one who is learning less. That is the fear Hon. Minister. Had we known the implementation matrix maybe such worries would not have been arising. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. J. HUNGWE: What the Chief is talking about is not a new issue in this House. He has mentioned it before and I have told him I am also a Tonga speaker. I know what he is talking about. This has been mentioned ever since that the community is rather backward. We decided to put 16 languages in the Constitution. We need to make a start. Implementation will be done gradually. We cannot delay because teachers are needed. We must initiate implementation because we agreed to the 16 languages in the Constitution. The students should not be disadvantaged because they were unable to be taught in their own language. We cannot be retrogressive but should find ways of progressing. It is not a new issue to us who are here. They once talked about it and I told them that I am also a Tonga as they are. By that time, I knew what they meant by that sentiment. It has been said for quite a while that some people have been left behind and the like. An effort was made to put other languages in the Constitution and we consulted people and that is how we come up with the 16 languages. Therefore, we must make a start, some things will come as we go. We cannot wait until we have qualified teachers for all the official languages. Let us not go back and forth but it must not be forgotten that teachers are needed but we cannot stop. We discussed and agreed that there are some languages which are marginalised and are not taught in schools and those children were getting lower marks in classes.
We all understand that it was not easy to start, even Shona for it to be recognised and taught in schools as an official language was not an easy journey. We widely consulted and the Njanja people are the ones who speak real Shona, not all of us. The issue here is to have all official languages written in the Constitution to be recognised and taught in schools like other languages. So let us do that, we should not go back; let us move forward. We urge the Minister to take a stance and not be moved by some sentiments which are retrogressive. Listen to what we are saying here because you are our Minister. Tell them that as the Senate, we do not want to be going back, let us move forward. We do not want to refer to what was said before but what we are saying right now is that any eventualities will be dealt with as they come. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Hon. Chair, the issue raised
by Sen. Timveos is not relevant in this section. Here, we are talking about teaching of the language rather than who teaches it. The matter of who teaches it is a completely different issue. The thing that we are doing is to ensure that the teachers that are going to teach are competent in the languages. It is one thing to say I want a teacher who is trained in Chishona to teach Chishona than to say I want a Shona teacher to teach Chishona. Those are completely different issues. She also goes on to say the implication is, even Geography in an area should be taught by someone who speaks the language of that area. So we are endeavouring to say those who teach a specific learning area should be competent. If someone is going to go and teach Chichangani, they should be competent to go and teach Chichangani, which means their training in Chichangani has to be adequate. That is what we are saying.
The second aspect in this Bill is to say those teaching the infant module, which is ECD A to Grade Two should teach in the mother tongue of that area: this is what we are providing for here. They do not necessarily need to be a Muchangani but they are supposed to be competent to speak Chichangani because it will be the language of instruction.
Related to Senator Chief, the issue of Grade Seven, we do not compel two indigenous languages at Grade Seven. Our subjects at Grade Seven are five now - English, Chishona, General Paper local language, Mathematics and Agriculture. So in places where we have developed the local language, the examination at Grade Seven is given in the local language. We then do not say, do the local language and Isindebele for example, they just write the local language like everyone else. I do not see any contradiction there.
Let me take this opportunity Hon. Chair, that we have taken a deliberate stance to say as we are in a global village, our learners starting at junior level going into secondary should also have opportunity to learn a foreign language. We are saying our schools should choose among a number of foreign languages; Chiswahili one of which is the lingua franca of Africa but we are also saying Mandarin, we are also saying the languages of the UN, Portuguese, French and Spanish. We are saying they can choose to learn these languages starting from primary school. These languages at primary level are not examinable but at secondary school, they become examinable.
We are also encouraging cross pollination in our schools, where for example a school in Mutoko can teach Chichangana or Chitonga on the basis of the resources that they have so that we promote nation building by making people understand each other across the languages and cultures of the different local areas. So, we have this programme and definitely Madam Chair, the issue of language is one that the Ministry is taking very seriously. You would realise that in a few years we have managed to roll out and I think with Chitonga we are getting to Form Four already. Other languages, we are still behind. We are taking a proactive stance to promote these languages. I can assure you that under my watch, there is going to be effective implementation. Thank you Madam Chair.
HON. SEN. KHUPE: Thank you Madam Chair. Let me express
my bitterness to the Hon. Minister. I am a Kalanga speaker and there is lack of resources in terms of books, teachers and any other material. However, we find the Minister now introducing Mandarin, Swahili and all those other fun languages from outside. Why do we not prioritise our own indigenous languages first and then we go to other languages? Why are we running away from our own languages when we are complaining that there are no resources? We want to please Chinese and others; I do not think that is right. Thank you.
HON. SEN. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Chair. Hon. Minister,
on the issue of local languages, I think we have a problem. That is why we cannot even express ourselves in Isindebele when we are speaking with you ministers. Every time when we stand up wanting to ask questions, most of the ministers do not understand Ndebele. Local languages should be introduced in all Metropolitan Provinces. For example in Bulawayo, all subjects are taught including Shona. Why is
Ndebele not taught here in Harare? – [HON. MEMBERS: Hear, hear.] – This is because this is a Metropolitan Province. That is where we are having a problem because as long as you are in a Metropolitan Province, you have to learn both languages. So, Hon. Minister, please consider that. That is where our chief was asking that; ‘do you have teachers who can teach in Binga?’ It is not about the teacher having passed at school because Ndebele is difficult to learn. Most of our children who are learning now cannot speak proper English because the teachers teaching them do not know proper Ndebele. They passed at school but they do not know proper Ndebele. Hon. Minister, I propose that all Metropolitan Provinces should learn both languages, Ndebele and Shona. I thank you.
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: Thank you Madam Chair. I think Hon.
Sen. Khupe did not fully appreciate what I was saying. I said we are taking an affirmative action to roll out our local languages and we have a very robust programme for doing that. However, I have said in addition to that because we live in a global village and we do commerce with other countries, it is important that our schools also introduce other foreign languages – that is what I said. It does not mean that we are relegating our other local languages to a lesser priority. Our priority right now is to comply with our Constitution which recognises those 16 languages and we are rolling out that programme to make sure that progressively we offer these languages in our schools. So, there is no contradiction there. We cannot say we only learn our languages here and nothing else that would actually be taking us back.
The other issue of the Metropolitan provinces, I think that is an administrative issue that we can deal with. I would not want to say that there is no school in Harare Metropolitan Province which is offering other local languages than Shona because I do not have that statistics. It could be well that there are other schools who are offering other local languages in Harare. We cannot rule out the possibility. In fact, my understanding is that one of the big schools is doing that, it is actually offering Ndebele. That is why I want to check the information but I do not want to lie and say we are not doing that. Even if you go deep into Mashonaland Central for example, you will find schools teaching Isindebele there – [HON. MEMBERS: Inaudible interjections.]- That is the truth. Before you get the information, you cannot refute it.
On that score, you will find that this Bill is now saying our schools should introduce the other languages on a progressive way. If there is any movement towards what Senator Ncube was talking about, it is this
Bill because it is now saying our schools should strive to offer all the 16 officially recognised languages, not just Shona and Ndebele but all the
HON. SEN. MALINGA: I would like to find out from the
Minister how many schools have introduced sign language as a language of teaching? What progress are you making in the teaching of sign language?
HON. PROF. MAVIMA: We have put sign language on the same
pedestal as all the other officially recognised languages and we are making efforts. I am sure now that we have developed the syllabi for the sign language, so we are making efforts. We will have to select schools because we cannot roll out to every school in the country for the same reasons that resources are limited. So we will select schools so that we progressively offer sign language but it is on the same pedestal as all the other 16 officially recognised languages.
Clause 13 put and agreed to.
On Clause 14:
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Clause 14 is bringing in
sex education and is talking about health in schools. Health refers to a lot of things. It goes on to say the appointment of sexual and reproductive health personnel. We need to uphold our culture. We know that there is a lot happening in terms of contraceptives and condoms. This seems to be leading that way. In our culture, it is not easy to just call the young ones to come and access condoms. Why do you not use language that upholds our culture?
I think the word sexual needs to be revised. It would have been ideal just to say the appointment of health personnel. We know that within that whole personnel, there is the issue of sanitation, the issue of bathing and mensturation and how girls need to be prepared for this. It seems we are focusing on sex as if sex is referring to health. Does health mean sex? These are just unnecessary arguments that you bring here and we feel very uncomfortable as traditional leaders because this will be defended by the education sector that it is in the Act.
You want everything to pass but if we are to agree, remove the word sex. Just put appointment of health personnel. We do not want to encourage people who are reluctant to do this because it is in the law. It has been witnessed even in universities whereby students end up engaging in beer drinking because it is allowed. This Bill is for the people and should address the concerns of the people. Let us leave the issue of health there and remove sexual issues in schools. I am sure those out there will agree with me that some parts of this legislation makes some of these practices permissible in schools, which should not be the case. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Madam Chair, that
addition of (k) is aimed at a lot of other things that our schools are supposed to do related to issues of health in schools. The rationale for adding (k) comes from the fact the same problems that the Hon. Sen. Chief wants to avoid are happening without interventions of qualified human resources in our schools. The increases in premature pregnancies, the contraction of STIs and other things like that are a reality that is happening in our schools without the intervention of qualified human personnel to deal with those issues. When we are saying sexual and reproductive health personnel, we are talking about people and counsellors who will say abstention, who will say there is a danger, you will fall pregnant and if you do this and that, you will ruin your life. It is under guidance and counselling for our learners in our schools. We want people who have the appropriate language to avoid some of the problems that the Sen. Chief is referring to. This is why this was added here Madam Chair.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: We are not differing
with the Minister. Just a few days ago, the Minister of Justice came here and we discussed the Maintenance Bill. He saw that we had a point. If we have a point, you have to acknowledge that we have a point. The Minister of Justice said that it was expensive to go back and redo it but he accepted the point. We are not disputing with what the Minister is saying that pupils will be taught about sexual health but we just want the word health. We are saying that there are unqualified workers, but if we say right now, appoint health personnel, those who are qualified will fill that gap. Those are the personnel including those for sexual reproduction. All health personnel can be included not exposing ourselves that if we come out of this House, people will say you were in Parliament and you were promoting sex in school. Some people will not understand. Is it difficult for us to just say health?
HON. SEN. TIMVEOS: Thank you very much Madam Chair. I
think health and sexual health, there is a slight difference somehow. Statistics are showing that our children, maybe it is because of the internet, maybe it is because of the phone. We can blame a lot of things but it is happening. Twelve year olds getting pregnant and less than that. We are saying there should be somebody, I hope I understand properly, at a school, who these girls and these are girls, boys are left out of everything and they do the damage, somebody where a girl can go and speak or girls can be taught. They had that extra time at school to say come, let us educate you about how to be safe, what the chief does not want to say. Way back we had aunties where we would go and when parents saw that the child is now mature, they would call tete to come but we do not have aunties now. So we need this at the schools and we need this person where a girl-child can go and be comfortable to speak to them. Also, she can call the young girls to actually educate them on their own. So I agree with the Minister. The moment you change, it is now health and health can be flu, pneumonia or anything. It has to be specific. I beg Chief.
*HON. SEN. KHUPE: I just want to support Hon. Sen. Chief because we are now - if it is said that the bedroom belongs to mother and father, we all know what goes on in there during the night but we do not talk or write about it. So the Hon. Chief is saying we know what health covers but should we go about talking about it openly?
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): We have not
changed the heading of the section in the Bill but we have simply said let us insert (k) that speaks to the appointment of somebody with a certain specialty which is sexual and reproductive health. The danger in saying let us appoint somebody in legislation who will teach health, it is too broad and non-specific.
We want in the legislation to speak to issues of sexual and reproductive health, hence we had to insert a section that is specific, particular and unambiguous to what we intend to achieve. If we become broad, we are hiding under a finder, yet like what Hon. Timveos said, long back we used to have aunts and uncles who used to teach children about sexual reproductive health but nowadays, we no longer have these. For example, I stay in town and my sister the aunt stays in Hwange, probably my children only see her once in two years. The children have tablets where they see these things.
We are saying each school must appoint somebody who will be able to offer this and mitigate against zvinhu zvavari kuona musocial media or wherever and we want this person to be specifically prescribed in legislation kuti unoita nezvei aside kuti section yatiri kuti tiinserte this
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: Order Minister, may
you kindly use one language at a time because it becomes difficult.
HON. ZIYAMBI: Okay, but what I am saying Hon. Chair is that if you go to the section which is being amended by the Minister, Section 64 in the Education Act, the heading is health in schools, then it categorises what we need to do. Then the Minister of Education is saying let us have a specific subsection (k) that speaks to the appointment of somebody who will handle sexual and reproductive health. For the lack of a better word, that is vana tete whom we are introducing in schools to do the counseling, teach our children about sexual reproductive health, the age that is suitable for them to engage in this, what is required of them and also to monitor these individuals, our learners.
If we do not specify that person, a school may decide to appoint an environmental health technician. He is a health person and a Minister will not have a legislation to say why you appointed this person when you want you to deal with these issues of sexual reproductive health. If we have it being specific like this, the Minister will be able to say can you show us the qualification of that person that is supposed to ensure our learners learn sexual reproductive health when this person is an environmental health technician.
This will assure that our schools have the requisite skills to deal with the issue of sexual reproductive health which we must not be shy to speak about in this day and age. We are talking about child marriages, we need to ensure that we fuse it in our education system and this is a very important clause that we must applaud the Minister for inserting in this Bill as it will help us a lot.
+HON. TIMVEOS: I want to give an example using Bulawayo. There are those who come from Bulawayo. You know that there are vuzu parties where children enter competitions of sleeping with numerous boys. They say if you sleep with a number of boys you will get a trophy and yet their parents are toiling in South Africa trying to raise fees for these children. They are saying if you want to win a trophy you have to sleep with quite a number of boys. I would like you to know what is happening out there.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: My understanding is that we
should not be using broad terms. We need to be specific in this particular section. I need to seek clarity. Are you saying each school from Grade Zero up to Grade Seven or from Form One up to Form Four? Where is this sexual reproductive health education going to apply? Where are these teachers or advisers going to apply? What benefit do we derive from the impartation of such knowledge? What benefit does it bring to our culture and our country? I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: Some of these things
need to go to the people so that the country or people can give their input. If the people say Chief you are wrong then I will sit down – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – I am in agreement with the two Ministers that have spoken. We are not differing but we are in agreement. We are saying that there should be this person because we no longer have aunties in our societies.
We say there must be an “aunt” at a school but the point is the duties of that person are much broader than sex. As black people there are things that we do and say in our African language. I am saying that some of the issues or concepts that are related to sexual and reproductive health should have the specific terms that we use that still give decency to us as Africans. We should not be calling a spade a spade. That is what I am saying. The implication is that this could be counselors or social welfare or those from health. When you are using the word, you say these are counselors. We want people who will counsel. If it is personnel that deal with reproductive health, we are running away from our culture too fast. That is why we say the person you are talking about, we can say specific and the like but some specifics can give us problems in future. You are now implying as if they are counselors – it is you who are using that word. So if we are using that word, just be clear and say we want personnel who will counsel school children on health matters. Use counsel; you also used the word early child marriages, that one is good. Put it like this - health personnel and reproductive health, it sounds clear. Counselors who counsel school children on early child marriages and reproductive health, it is proper.
After all they are just words – what is reproductive health? There is no reproduction without sex, so why do we not just use reproductive health? Once we say reproductive we have included sex. We are Africans, we do not want to use such words as sexual. So why do we not say these people will educate children on early marriages and reproductive health, it is respectable in our society. Instead just say personnel who will counsel children on reproductive health and early childhood marriage not sexual whatever, in our society. I rest my case.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam Chair. I
would like to thank Hon. Sen. Timveos for her support and the examples which she gave of Vuzu parties. Even if we deny that fact, our society has a rot that is affecting young children due to lack of proper teachings. They now engage in such activities like Vuzu parties where they compete in sexual intercourse. A boy who would have slept with many girls and the girl who would have slept with many boys would be awarded with trophies – many things are happening and generations to come can be misled by these things.
I also heard that we should change some wording but the issue on different health practitioners is being covered by that section already. Government should provide dental officers who will go in schools, Government should provide psychiatrists and medical officers who will be doing immunisation and other related health issues. So this was inserted because the Act right now is not providing for the part to include the aunties you were talking about for them to assist in our schools.
This came into effect after the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education conducted public hearings, consulting the people across the country. This suggestion came at a later stage but it was never there. The general people are saying where we are heading with the issue of young children falling pregnant and certain behaviours is becoming uncontrollable, hence there is need to use our schools as a platform to educate our children on socialisation, so that is why we need to get qualified personnel to do that. With those words, I move that let us adopt this clause as it is.
HON. SEN. MAKONE: Thank you Madam Chair. I am sorry to
take you back Minister. When you look at your addition, the appointment of sexual and reproductive health personnel, I personally do not think that there is a difference in qualifications of a sexual and reproductive health personnel from that of a reproductive health personnel only. I think they are one and the same person who deals with sexual activity and reproductive activity. I think that the sexual bit can come in the job description of the person who is going to be employed and what they are going to do – [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] – because they are going to look at the whole process from how it starts, what gets done and what it results in this particular health problem.
So the person is the same, the qualification is the same, what they are going to teach is the same but when you specify, when you are looking at that personnel and you advertise, then you include all these things so that the correct person is appointed. I do not think that we should stick to a term which makes most of us uncomfortable. I personally would like my grandchildren to be taught these things but I do not want them today because they are very literate – Grade one and two but they read this and they would say gogo what is sexual? I do not want to go into those details but I can easily talk on what reproductive health is. Thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Before the
Minister responds, while I want to beg to differ with the Hon. Senator, sexual reproductive health and reproductive health are two different things. Reproductive health pertains to health when reproducing. Somebody who is not fertile can engage in sexual activity. So there are two aspects; there is sexual activity and reproductive health. If you look at the World Health Organisation definition, it defines sexual reproductive health and that is what they urge governments to teach. So we should not shy away from using the correct terminology of what we intend to do. I get what they are saying but I submit that, let us leave it as it is. It will cover what we require.
The other Hon. Senator said – it is covered, the Minister is empowered under this section to make regulations to define the specifics that he was speaking to. So this is general to say that the Minister will now be able to direct that it be done through regulations. Further to this, regulations will now be put in place to ensure that the gap on the specificity and particularity that we need will be covered when the Minister issues regulation but it is not one and the same thing when we speak about sexuality and reproduction. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: That is why it is said in
English they are just semantics. We are only using semantics. I want to register as chief, my discomfort of moving the way we are moving as someone who promotes culture in the country. I am aware where this is coming from; it is not a taboo, that is why they have homosexuals. Let us be careful because to them they can say anything, like a daughter can tell her father that I had sex last night with my boyfriend. In our culture, this is not permissible. We might incorporate some of the things in the Bill but this is now domestic law, it is not international. We have to write it in a way that is permissible to our culture. If we just use the term reproduction we would have covered a lot of things without mentioning the word ‘sexual’. You talked about counseling and early child marriages, in early child marriages we are teaching children not to indulge in sexual activities. To me, it should be early child marriages and reproductive health, By so doing we would have covered everything. I am uncomfortable if we can to proceed in this manner. I thank you.
HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: On a point of order.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: What is your point of
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: My question was not responded
- We are debating that children must not be taught such language but I am asking - are we talking about primary or secondary schools? I am not comfortable if my grade two child is being taught sexual reproductive health.
HON. SEN. NCUBE: I think we are having problems, nothing is wrong with the clause but it is the choice of words that is wrong. When Ministers come in this Senate, they want to incorporate what they think is correct; I do not think this is fair. When you come to this Senate you must listen to Senators’ concerns so that we are together. Yes, we know you brought this Bill but when Senators are concerned about something you should accept that we can contribute something meaningful.
Remove what we think is not good for the public, I thank you.
+HON. SEN. M. NDLOVU: Thank you Hon. Chair. This is tough, we are going to sleep here, I do not think what we are talking about here was never there; it was there before you were even appointed Ministers. We have our own ways of bringing up children in our culture. A girl will be taught how to behave whenever she becomes a teenager. Why is it now necessary that you bring this Bill here in
Parliament on how we can raise our own children, that is not proper?
We have our own culture and we have chiefs, aunts and grandparents who can teach these young children how to behave. They can teach the girls and boys. Some of us are not educated, we do not speak English and English is going to disturb us. Let us follow our own culture and teach it to our children. Are we saying when a child goes to school she must be taught about condoms? What if the child gets impregnated, what are we saying?
Ministers must be serious, we are not here to play but we are here to represent people. What are we saying as Senators, are we teaching these children to be naughty? We will not allow our children to be taught such things and we will not allow the Senate to pass such a Bill. I thank you.
*HON. SEN. TONGOGARA: Thank you Hon. Chair. There is
an outcry over child marriages and there is an outcry that chiefs should intervene and act in such a manner. Here in the Senate, we have chiefs and they are objecting to the way this clause is crafted. They are making suggestions so that our children will not look at us and say we are fools; how come we did not impart wisdom in coming up with such a law. If the Bill has come from another House and we are there to give our input ,we should not come to rubber stamp what the National Assembly would have said. We want things to be amended so that we give a good image and dignity to our chiefs as the custodians of our culture in the communal lands. We should not accept everything hook, line and sinker. Let us see what we can do as elderly people so that we retain our culture which we are clamouring that it has been lost.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Thank you Madam Chair. I think
we should be very sensitive to our cultural values. We do not promulgate laws for the international community but for our people and whatever comes out from these two august Houses must actually address and be sensitive to the intended targets. So, I do agree with what has been said. I think let us not play with semantics. If I am asked to come and teach reproductive health, there is no way I can go without talking about sex, so it is covered. So, I do not know why we want to be so offensive and disregard our cultural sensitivities just coining a word. Probably, it has the WHO or whoever that this is what Zimbabwe is doing.
I think we need to know, with all due respect, our Hon. Ministers should know that laws are created for the people that is why we domesticate any international convention so that it addresses the cultural sensitivity of our people. I strongly feel that putting sexual, the age group which we are - I do not want to labour what the other Hon. Senators have contributed but we are talking about child marriages. You said we do not want child marriages, but you are talking of sex issues so much which in our culture is a taboo so we cannot run away from it. Basically what we are saying is that we are trying to run away from being Zimbabweans who have got a culture and value. That is what defines Zimbabwe which is different from Congo, South Africa and America. We need to safeguard those. With all due respect, let us respect the institution of chiefs – those are the custodians of who we are
– [HON. SENATORS: Hear, hear.] –
*HON. SEN. SHUMBA: This is an upper house which has Hon.
Senators who are 40 years and above. This shows that we are mature. We do not want indecent things in this House. Minister, we are appealing to you that if elders are against the name – why do you not simply change the wording because you know what you want to teach the children. I thought about it as I was sitting here – after teaching these children, are you going to come to us as elderly people to teach these children or you are going to have our children taught by children who are interested in sexual reproductive health. What are they going to learn?
If you are going to talk to us as old people that are no longer sexually active, then they would understand. How can someone who requires a counsellor be a counsellor to another child? It is embarrassing. It is not a question of just rubber stamping what will have been emanated from the other House. We should not be considered as the cheaper House. We are not as cheap as that. I get touched and become afraid. If we had a Minister like Hon. Sen. J. Hungwe, he would not have said such things. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF JUSTICE, LEGAL AND
PARLIAMENTARY AFFAIRS (HON. ZIYAMBI): Thank you Hon.
Chair. It is not correct that we are disrespecting the institution of chiefs. We are not saying we are not recognising our cultural values – that is not correct. We have a section already in the Bill that speaks about health in schools. It says; the Minister may, after consultation with the Minister responsible for health make regulations in terms of Section 69 for the purposes of safeguarding the health of pupils or students attending any educational institution operated by or registered with Ministry and it gives a description of those.
We now acknowledge while we have areas where our traditions and cultural values are well preserved, we now also have metropolitan provinces or cities where we do not have strong family institutions. We need to deal with those areas. While I respectfully differ with my learned Hon. Dr. – if you go to the definition of sexuality – it has its own specific aspects. When you speak about reproduction, it has its own specific aspects too. We wanted to marry the two to ensure that this is only speaking to the Minister to say that the Minister may, after consulting; appoint these personnel to specifically deal with those issues.
It is not about counselling alone.
We want the Minister to be guided when he makes regulation that he is looking at this specific cadre to deal with this specific problem. We must not run away from this. We have that problem and we must not run away from this because we have a culture. Otherwise we want to deal with this issue so that we deal with the issue of our children. If we are to admit, the majority of us leave our children at the mercy of our schools. We are rarely with them to teach them some of these issues whereas in other communities like communal areas, it is well knit. If we look at the metropolitan provinces, it is not the same. We are speaking to amend this section so that we give guidelines to the Minister. We are not saying it is something that will be publicized, but it is a guideline in legislation to say Minister, when you consult with the Minister of
Health, appoint this personnel with these specific skills – that is the reason why we decided to specify so that when he comes up with those regulations, he will then specify that schools need these personnel in the regulations that he is making.
We are not in any way demining the institution of chiefs. We are not in any way demining the institution of marriage. We want to enhance that by ensuring that even those communities without strong family or traditional cultural values have these values taught at all our institutions. I submit that we leave it as it is. It will not create a lot of harm to us. It is very progressive to us and we move forward.
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: Madam Chair, I strongly
disagree, these rules are not private things which are tucked in the Minister or in my office ....
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON (HON. SEN.
MOHADI): Order, I do not think I recognised you. Let us conduct ourselves orderly. Can you rise so that I recognise you?
Let us avoid repetition by all possible means. I thank you. Can you continue?
HON. SEN. DR. MAVETERA: I just want to respectfully disagree with the Minister. Rules are a public document – his assertion that it is meant to guide the Minister; it is not going to be out there. If we are doing the proper thing, this should actually be available to the common person. Those words that are offensive culturally should be addressed. As a House, we will not allow such things to proceed.
*HON. SEN. CHIEF NHEMA: We have agreed that there should be 16 languages and that one should be removed and that should be removed which is English which is a foreign language. I want the Ministers to read in Ndebele, Tonga or any other language. Once we have removed the foreign language, that should be taught in our common languages.
HON. SEN. CHIEF SIANSALI: My plea was to ask the Hon. Minister – what implication or changes does it bring to their intention if they phrase it as the Hon. Chief suggested to say early childhood marriage and reproductive health. Does it not still send the same signal to their intended objective?
*HON. SEN. HUNGWE: Chairman I have observed that we have
dwelt at length and spoken at length. I would like to say firstly we should know that we have the Lower House and the Upper House here. This was arranged. The people that we believe we consulted they believe that if there was an opinion in that House the Lower House would come to the elders, the Upper House. Then there came a view that in the Upper House we should be in there. It was then decided that what we value most is our culture. So the chiefs were chosen to represent that aspect in the Upper House. There is no one in the Lower
House to do that so that they represent the cultural aspect of our society.
It was my understanding that the Portfolio Committees of Parliament had come up with this report yet the officers in the Ministry of Justice, legal and Parliamentary Affairs are the ones who draft this and they come here and expect us to accept that. If you are not ready to go against us then I urge you to go and implement what we have said. *THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY
EDUCATION (HON. PROF. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam
President. I wanted to say that this meant that if the Minister were to appoint who will be appointed. It did not mean that it did not talk of the modus operandi of the impartation of this syllabus, that we are talking about who is the appointing authority and which personnel is needed. I have heard what you have said. We will remove the word sexual and in its place put reproductive health. We will then see the criteria of the person we will require to fill the position. I thank you.
Clause 14 as amendment put and agreed to.
HON. SEN. CHIEF CHARUMBIRA: I am not very clear,
where are we.
THE TEMPORARY CHAIRPERSON: We are on Clause 15.
Clause 15 put and agreed to.
On Clause 16:
HON. SEN. MPOFU: I am looking at subsection 5 where it says under no circumstances is a teacher allowed to beat a child. I am concerned with that Clause Madam Chair because it seems we are fast adopting the western culture of not disciplining our own children. We do not want to raise unruly children. A teacher is the one who spends most of the time with the child at school. So I think a teacher can be allowed to exercise minimum discipline to her child so that our children are all disciplined. We do not want to bring up an undisciplined youth. Thank you.
HON. SEN. NCUBE: Thank you Madam Chair. I am on people with disability where it says every registered school shall provide infrastructure subject to availability of resources suitable for use by pupils with disabilities. Minister, what if those resources are there? I think other children will be disadvantaged. The Minister should consider that it is everyone’s right to have access to any building or institution of the country. I thank you.
THE MINISTER OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION (HON. MAVIMA): Thank you Madam Chair, let me
respond to both interventions; the issue of corporal punishment is almost like a fait accompli because there is already a court ruling barring corporal punishment. This is also in response to Section 68 (a) of our Constitution, which outlaws corporal punishment in general.
You will also realise that taking that into consideration, the Constitution and the court ruling; we have said we need a very robust disciplining policy which as a Ministry and I as a Minister, should develop as guidance to our schools. So, we are providing alternatives
With regard to the issue of disability, you will realise that we have a big array of disabilities. To say one school should plan in advance for all of them is almost an impossibility. We have provided for some basic infrastructure like ramps and ablutions in our schools and every school that we are building and those that did not have in the past. So that aspect is only saying, unless we are comprehensively aware of all the types of disabilities, we cannot plan in advance and those resources are not going to be there. However, if a school is approached by a learner with a disability that they have not planned for, then that school should go out and seek the necessary resources in order to provide for that. So, it is a matter of not being able to plan in advance and also not being able to provide for all disabilities because of resources. Thank you Madam Chair.
Committee to resume: Thursday, 5th September, 2019.
It being Five Minutes to Seven o’clock p.m. THE HON. DEPUTY PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE interrupted business under consideration in terms of Standing Order Number 51(1)(a).