A news story that is Best Of The Year for 2020 was from when the government announced that it was adopting the Education Amendment Act 2020, to align its Education Act with the country’s Constitution.
Education Amendment Act 2020
The Education Act was amended after consultations with various stakeholders to come up with extensive provisions to protect, respect and fulfil the right to education for all children.
New sections were added to the Education Act such as on Pupil Discipline
68A Pupil discipline
1) The responsible authority of every school shall draw up a disciplinary policy for the school in accordance with standards set out in regulations prescribed by the Minister for the purpose.
(2) The regulations and any disciplinary policy shall—
(a) not permit any treatment which—
(i) does not respect the human dignity of a pupil; or
(ii) amounts to physical or psychological torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
(b) prescribe the manner in which any punishment may be administered.
(3) 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.
(4) 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.
(5) Under no circumstance is a teacher allowed to beat a child
The last part outlaws corporal punishment/canning in schools (at least by teachers) and young me was wishing they had adopted these changes 20 years ago when I was in high school because the way some teachers used wield beatings as a disciplinary tool and a learning aid,
late for class = beating, noise in class = beating, failing question = beating, failing exam = beating, complaining about beatings = more beatings you get the picture
I remember once upon a time, all the first form boys wrote a petitions to the police about a particular teacher and put it in the police suggestion. There was great jubilation when the police came and took the teacher away, but the joy was short-lived as the teacher was back in time for dinner to announce that “So you think you are clever… I’m back” What followed was a rather painful week.
A notable amendement was the addition of a provision on expulsion
68C Non exclusion of pupils from school
(1) No pupil shall be excluded from school for non-payment of school fees or on the basis of pregnancy
Prior to this amendment when a student fell pregnant they would likely get expelled from school or drop out sometimes never to resume their studies which is one of the reasons attributed to the gender disparity while their co-parent sometimes able to carry on seemingly unaffected.
A 2019 report by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education noted more females learners dropped out of school as a result of pregnancy or early marriages.
And 2020 after over a 6-month hiatus from school shocking reports indicate over hundreds of school girls have fallen pregnant and there’s the unfortunate cases of two Bulawayo girls who committed suicide after failing to cope with their teen pregnancies.
The government has set up a budget for the provision of psycho-social support for pupils who fall pregnant so they are able to resume their studies and thus ensure no woman gets left behind.
The bill also makes provision for compulsory state funded basic education although its application is subject to resources being available… but no child can be expelled for non-payment of fees.
The amendments are commendable, you can download the Education Amendment Act here
What positive news stories stood out for you this year?