Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) child members accompanied by child mentors and national leadership delivered a petition to the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture at 1030am in Bulawayo 11 April 2017.
Two hundred and five children and 100 adults marched from the Bulawayo Public Library to the government complex Mhlahlandlela singing protest and religious songs.
At the complex the children submitted a petition and also recited poems bemoaning the state of education in Zimbabwe. The march dispersed peacefully at 11am with police continuing to monitor from a distance.
WOZA leadership promised that WOZA and partners would coordinate legal action against the Ministry should children be chased away from school when the term begins on 9th May 2017.
“The state has promised to progressively realise the right to education but has instead retrogressed causing hardship to parent and children alike through various fees and levy. They even withhold original birth certificates if parents’ don’t pay up.” They force parents to accept payment plans at the threat of debt collectors visiting their homes to repossess property. Debt collectors even interrogate children as to the property in their homes that can be taken. When parents finally pay up they are also paying the Debt collectors fee so the cost of Education has become for the privileged” said WOZA leader Jenni Williams
WOZA leader Magodonga Mahlangu criticised Minister Dokora for failing to pay the child per capita grant since 2013 election period. She said he should be ashamed of himself. “Dokora is failing to pay the child per capita grant but then coming with a new curriculum which demands parents buy laptops and smart phones. Something is not logical in all this”
Children asked why education a crime in Zimbabwe? They feel it is a crime to go to school because of the abuse they suffer at the hands of their teachers and then they are shouted at by stressed parents, responding harshly because they cant pay the payment demands of fees and levies children are made to bring home.
“My thoughts racing in my mind, thinking of the difficulties of being literate… Exhausted of learning, finding it hard to grasp all the information, Education has now become a crime for us children” said a child from Richmond in Bulawayo
WOZA leadership had formally invited the Zimbabwe Republic Police who came and observed a descent presence protecting the best interest of the children respecting their right to protest. Unfortunately the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission turned down the invitation to participate saying it had been handed over at short notice.
An elderly man watching the procession said that Education has become hard due to unemployment as most can’t pay up. A woman also a bystander agreed that a lot of payments are demanded by schools just as WOZA has explained. A woman at a hair dressing salon said this is the WOZA we know raising issues that matter to people on the street. A woman from Nkulumane said her children were also chased away from school.