Obert Masaraure who leads the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has said the provision of free education for all was the government’s mandate as per the national constitution but the governmen thas “shamefully negated” that duty.
His remarks come after Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima, repeated a “free education for all next year” promise first made by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2018 in reference to 2019 but the promise is yet to be implemented.
President Mnangagwa repeated it at the Independence celebrations in Bulawayo on April 18, almost four years after he made it on December 22, 2018.
Speaking at this year’s World Autism Day commemorations in Harare, Mavima promised free education to parents of children living with autism in attendance. Said Mavima:
Section 3.9 of the national disability policy is dedicated to inclusive education, with a provision which clearly states that persons with disabilities must be exempted from paying fees at public learning institutions, thus promoting their right to education, ultimately increasing their opportunities to enter the formal labour market as well as to establish different livelihoods.
Mavima said the government had abandoned its promise because the education sector was not allocated enough resources.
He added that President Mnangagwa had now committed that, starting in 2023, there is going to be free primary education for those attending public schools while the vulnerable will be supported with things like uniforms, examinations fees and stationery.
However, ARTUZ president, Obert Masaraure said Mnangagwa’s government should be ashamed of its failure to adhere to the Education Act and his promises. He said:
Free education should no longer be promised because the constitution is clear about what government should do. It is an obligation it has shamefully negated over years.
He said people had run out of patience and, therefore, cannot “wait up till 2023 for free education, we demand it now, especially considering the levels of poverty in Zimbabwe; people can no longer afford to pay fees.