It Is a win for Children in Zimbabwe!

Wednesday 2 September 2020

The president of Zimbabwe last week signed into law the Education Amendment Act of 2020, that outlaws corporal punishment and any forms of discrimination within the school setting, allows pregnant school girls to remain in school, as well as other significant wins for the Zimbabwean child.

The Education Amendment Act of 2020 entitles more children in Zimbabwe to enjoy their right to education. Notably, schools are now barred from turning away any child over non-payment of school fees, pregnant girls will no longer be excluded from school, while all children will be allowed to be enrolled at the nearest school to their place of residence. In the past, a girl who fell pregnant had to drop out, while the boy responsible for the pregnancy remained in school.

In addition, corporal punishment has been outlawed, with schools being required to draw up disciplinary policies that respect the identity and dignity of children. The net effect of the Act is that it will help children who had been left behind to fulfill their right to access education. Save the Children has been advocating for an end to corporal punishment, which had been outlawed in judicial settings but still remained in schools.

This development comes after years of working together with other child rights’ organisations under the Education Coalition of Zimbabwe (ECOZI), advocating for positive disciplin to ensure the protection of children from corporal punishment in schools. The advocacy process was conducted through engaging with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, parliamentarians, children, community awareness sessions and using key moments to advocate on this issue.

Now that the new Act makes provision for these changes, the next steps involve advocating for the full implementation of the Act. In effect, this means calling for a sustainable school financing model that ensures proper governance in schools and supports positive discipline. While pregnant girls are no longer excluded from school, Save the Children Zimbabwe and its partners will also work towards the reduction of teenage pregnancies, behavior change communication to reduce stigma towards pregnant girls, supporting the provision of sanitary facilities for girls in school as well as increased awareness to parents and communities on the need to keep their children in school.