Pregnant Pupils To Attend Classes, Beating Pupils Outlawed
The Government of Zimbabwe has gazetted the amendments to the Education Act which outlaw the beating of pupils and the expelling of pregnant pupils from school.
State schools can no longer exclude girls who fall pregnant from attending lessons, while teachers will not be allowed to cane pupils.
The Education Act Amendment was passed by Parliament, approved by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and has been gazetted.
Under the amendments, “No pupil shall be excluded from school for non-payment of school fees or on the basis of pregnancy.”
The then Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavima argued in Parliament that expelling a girl for falling pregnant had a discriminatory effect in circumstances where she would have been impregnated by a colleague who in most cases, would be allowed to proceed with his education.
Mavima said this after some legislators argued that allowing a girl who fell pregnant to continue learning had the end effect of condoning delinquency among pupils.
The Act will also outlaw corporal punishment as school authorities are now required to draw up a disciplinary policy in accordance with standards set out in regulations prescribed by the minister for the purpose.
In terms of the Act, the regulations and any disciplinary policy shall not permit any treatment which does not respect the human dignity of a pupil.
“Disciplinary measures must be moderate, reasonable and proportionate in the light of the conduct, age, sex, health and circumstances of the pupil concerned and the best interests of the child shall be paramount. Under no circumstance is a teacher allowed to beat a child,” reads the Act.
“No pupil may be suspended from school without first being granted a reasonable opportunity, with the support of his or her parents, to make representations with respect to the proposed suspension.”
The act amongst other things empowers the minister to fix school fees, taking into consideration the location and status of a given school.