By Tafadzwa Muranganwa
In 2010 a Grade 5 pupil at Chishawasha Primary School died and several others fell ill following suspected food poisoning and in 2015 about 200 students at Peterhouse Boys High contracted diarrhoea.
Maramba Secondary in
Mutawatawa and St Joseph Secondary
School were early this year ordered to
shut down following a Satanism scare .
A week ago, Walter Temera , a Midlands State University Local Governance student was found hanging in suspected suicide following an alleged
love triangle with a lecturer at the institution.
The above unfortunate incidents have ignited debate on
what can be done to restore the country’s learning institutions to safe havens
for school children and the young adults.
Mr Timothy Kwambana while
bemoaning the rising cases of
unfortunate incidents in learning institutions believes that the role to
make safe learning environments is a holistic approach that needs parents, teachers, the institution authorities and the government .
“Most of the time parents ascribe their roles to teachers , tutors
and school authorities once their children enrol at a school or university
which I think is unfair there is the need for a concerted effort to make sure
these institutions are made safer,” cited Kwambana.
Another parent said there are many reasons why learning institutions are becoming breeding
ground for nefarious activities making them unsafe for both learners and the
“ The prevailing low
teacher motivation, increased exposure of students to technology, banning of corporal punishment, the rife in
drug and alcohol abuse in schools
sprawling of private colleges/ schools which are not registered and
approved by relevant ministries have led to learning institutions to be unsafe
havens for the students, teachers and lecturers,” blames Mercy Mukandi.
It is this quest of safe learning environment that has seen a
consortium of 5 civic organisations launching the Safe Learning Institution
Initiative(SLII) in Harare on Monday .
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers
Association of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) which has been leading ‘Safe Schools’ Campaign
joined hands with the Students Christian Movement of Zimbabwe(SCMZ),
Research Advocacy Unit(RAU),Zim Human
Rights NGO Forum and Veritas to push for
safe learning institutions .
Speaking at the launch of SLII, ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure says following the launch of their Safe Schools
campaign which had its highlight when a High Court interim order interdicted Zanu PF from bussing school children to rallies ,the organisation saw it fit to join forces with other
like-minded organisations to ratchet pressure for safe learning spaces.
“As you are aware we have been
pushing for safe schools and during the run up to the recently held harmonised
elections we won a court relief order against Zanu PF’s bussing of school
children to rallies which unfortunately was rescinded by the Supreme court .
“Having realised this we thought
it was prudent to up the call by
uniting with SCMZ,RAU,NGO Forum and Veritas ,” briefed Masaraure.
Research and Advocacy Unit
director Shastry Njeru who is haunted by a gory event that happened when he was in
primary school asserts that there is the need for preserving
safety for school children in its entirety to produce responsible citizens.
“Issue to do with school children’s
safety are at the core of my heart having been
exposed to a disturbing event while in Grade 1 when we were called to assembly to view paraded 7 bodies of people who had been killed for snitching
during the liberation struggle.
“It is in this regard that as an
organisation we saying there is the need
to ensure there is safety of education , safety of the infrastructure, safety
of a children’s journey to and from school and if these are not met they don’t
create a proper citizen,” revealed the RAU boss.
Lawyer Kenias Shonhai of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum voiced concern on the continued chasing away of children for non-payment
of school fees.
“As an organisation we bemoan the continued violation of
children’s rights where school authorities chase children for
non-payment of school fees which is
their parents’ responsibilities, ”bemoaned Shonai.
Students in tertiary institutions are also clamouring for their
safety which they say is being
compromised by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen female students being victims of sexual abuse,
according to Louise Makosa of SMCZ.
ZINASU president Archibald Madida
pleaded for consideration of students living with disabilities as most
education institutions lack ablution facilities and study materials that
cater for their needs.
The launch of the SLII came a day before the World Children’s Day
which is commemorated on the 20th of November annually and the
organisations said it was befitting since most of the challenges they were
highlighting affect school going children.
The day is running under the theme ‘’Children are taking over and turning the