Making schools zones of safety & peace

Background

In 2009, the Research and Advocacy Unit in collaboration with the progressive Teachers‘ Union of Zimbabwe carried out a study to document the experiences of violence that teachers experienced in Zimbabwe especially around 2000 and beyond. The study was aimed at highlighting the extent and impact of violations on the education sector and how schools had become to resemble ―war zones‖ especially around elections to the detriment of the entire education sector. The study was also aimed highlighting the plight of the Educators vis-a-viz political activities and push for a policy declaring schools as zones of safety.

Schools, schooling and teachers are a fundamental part of a nation‘s fabric, having critically important roles in developing the workforce and social capital of the future. Multiple studies demonstrate the crucial role that education plays in development. All societies desiring to develop economically, and have a strong, stable citizenry, place high priority on education. Zimbabwe is no different and has received endless praise for the investment by government in education. However, like health, education needs the constant support of the government and the citizenry in order to continue to provide the skilled workers and committed citizens of the future. For this reason, it is always critical to protect education from attack.

Hence, a recent decision of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission1 in respect of the need to protect school children from human rights violations during elections has very important implications for the forthcoming poll. This decision must be seen not merely in the current context but also against the background of the past 18 years, and five elections. Whilst the Human Rights Commission dealt primarily with issues around participation at political rallies and exposure to hate speech, as we pointed out in a previous report, Zimbabwe has an unenviable history of political violence during elections (RAU.2018). Hence it is important that the decision of the Human Rights Commission has extension into even greater protection for school children.

Source: Research and Advocacy Unit

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