Zimbabwean teacher unions and advocates for students are once again urging a ban on political activities in schools, noting that some schools in Manicaland province were shut down last week so teachers and students could attend an anti-Western sanctions rally called by the ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe.
The Apex Council, which negotiates on behalf of teachers, said schools in Headlands, Manicaland province, were closed for the ZANU-PF anti-sanctions rally. It said the move was unfair to schoolchildren who have lost much precious time in the classroom over the past few years, especially during the tumultuous 2008 election year.
Apex Council officials said they like many others do not want school grounds to be used for political activities, and politicians should not take their business into classrooms.
Education Minister David Coltart some time ago called for an end to political activities in schools. But unions representing teachers and advocates for students say such abuses have continued. Opponents of the politicization of schools say injecting partisan politics into national classrooms makes no sense as students are too young to vote.
But others note that in rural areas in particular, schools are community centers.
Coltart told VOA Studio 7 reporter that his no-politics policy has been put into force by the ministry - but no legal penalties can apply until it has been passed into law.