The Sunday News
Tinomuda Chakanyuka Sunday News Reporter
THE Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education will investigate cases of schools that are reportedly resisting a directive to teach pupils to recite the National Schools Pledge, an official has said. Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango on Friday said although no official reports had been made, it had learnt through the media that some schools were not reciting the pledge.
Some church, trust and private schools around the country have vowed not to teach pupils to recite the pledge which they argue is unconstitutional. However, the Government, council, and Roman Catholic run schools have embraced the pledge and pupils are reciting it as mandated by Government.
Dr Utete-Masango said the ministry would send its officials on the ground to establish the state of affairs once they are furnished with the list of the schools reportedly resisting the pledge, and only then they can map a way forward.
“I think we need to get a list of those schools so that we can investigate. What happened on opening day is that we sent our ministry officials to sample schools and the reports we got were positive. We’ve only heard through the media that some schools were not reciting the pledge but no official report has been made so far. We would have to check against the information that we have then we can send our Provincials Education Directors (PEDs) to go into those schools and find out,” she said.
Dr Utete-Masango could, however, not be drawn into revealing the measures that will be taken against school authorities resisting the pledge.
“We need to investigate first before we can say what measures will be taken and that list will help,” she said.
Some churches have been on record vowing that the national pledge would not be recited at their schools. Brethren in Christ Church which runs schools in Matabeleland region that include Matopo High School, Mtshabezi High School and Wanezi High school, said pupils at its schools will not recite the pledge. The church argues that the pledge violated the national constitution.
Reverend Useni Sibanda, the director of Christian Alliance, is on record saying churches in the ecumenical body will also not allow their children to recite the National Pledge. The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) has also rejected the pledge.
Some of the schools that have allegedly resisted the pledge include Bulawayo Adventist High School, Midlands Christian College (MCC) and Midlands Christian School in Gweru and Anderson Adventist School again in Gweru. Mkhosana Seventh Day Adventist in Victoria Falls has also reportedly rejected the pledge.
The pledge is contained in the new primary and secondary school curriculum framework adopted by Cabinet on September 22 last year. Pupils in infant school are reciting the following pledge of allegiance: “Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, I salute the national flag, I commit to honesty and dignity of hard work.”
For junior and secondary schools, the pledge says: “Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, I salute the national flag. United in our diversity by our common desire for freedom, justice and equality. Respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost lives in the Chimurenga/ Umvukela and national liberation struggles. We are proud inheritors of the richness of our natural resources. We are proud creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures. We commit to honesty and the dignity of hard work”.
The Government argues that the pledge, an excerpt of the preamble to the National Constitution, is meant to foster national pride and patriotism in learners. The National Pledge is also subject of contestation before the courts where the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) on behalf of a Harare man, are contesting the constitutionality of the pledge.
In his submissions the man, a father of three school going children argues that reciting the pledge was against his religious beliefs. The Constitutional Court is expected to hear arguments on the matter before the end of next month.