Despite a huge public outcry of over the recent introduction of a national pledge in all schools in Zimbabwe, Education Minister, Lazarus Dokora says it is mandatory under the national education policy for all schools in the country to ensure that pupils recite the pledge.
Dokora, who was giving evidence on the National Schools Pledge in parliament today, told the Education Parliamentary Committee that there was wide consultation before the pledge was implemented.
“I have approximately 8,600 schools and some 4.2 million school children and we expect that with effect from 3 May this is what they are doing,” said Minister Dokora.
He said the National Schools Pledge, which is part of the on-going education curriculum reform in the country, said the essence of the pledge is to build in learners a sense of commitment to national values, dignity, respect for national heritage and a sense of stewardship over national resources.
Said Dokora, “We have not done that which has not be done by other nations, we are simply coming on board when other nations have had these pledges already as they develop their young generations.”
He said the National School Pledge was derived from the preamble of the constitution, which lawmakers passed three years ago.
But lawmakers said while it may be a noble idea, the outcry was largely because parents felt they had not been consulted.
Lawmaker Trevor Saruwaka of the Movement for Democratic Change formation of Morgan Tsvangirai asked the minister if he could consider amending it to include remembering those who died during the Gukurahundi era.
“There has been a major outcry over the introduction and imposition of the national pledge would you consider taking this matter for a referendum so that you get the buy in from the generality of Zimbabweans that indeed this is the way they want to take. This is not a small matter in that is seems to affect the core beliefs of the families,” Dokora said.
But Dokora said there was nothing more he could say as the matter is still being handled by the country’s courts.
“The honorable member also sought the inclusion of the Gukurahundi aspect and then the imposition of the Christian beliefs. I want also to say honorable chair that the matter has been set down for determination at the Constitutional Court so I won’t express myself beyond what I have done,” he said.
Asked why the pledge is not being performed by lawmakers and civil servants if it was that important, Dokora said it was up to them to recite it.
He said his ministry would be launching a competition for translating the National Schools Pledge in the country’s national languages, including sign language.
Dokora dispelled reports that the ministry was introducing uniforms for teachers and banning Scripture Union in schools, saying it was all not true.