A new law in Zimbabwe
According to UNICEF, Education is the right of every girl and boy. It also refers to ensuring quality learning, inclusive learning opportunities, and a better quality of life for every child and a better world for all . In developing regions, approximately 12 million girls aged 15 to19 years and at least 777,000 girls under 15 years give birth each year ( WHO,2020). With this trend, teenage pregnancy could be a serious threat to the achievement of SDG4. As Dr. James Emman Kwegyir Aggrey said “if you educate a man you educate an individual but if you educate a woman you educate a whole nation”. An educated woman can transmit the education she receives from generation to generation. So, allowing pregnant girls as well as eliminating corporal punishment will contribute to the education system and the development of the nation.
Zimbabwe is not left out of this problem. In an article published By Robert Tapfumaneyi on 12th May 2019, UNFPA revealed: 10.3% adolescent girls in urban areas began child bearing compared to 27.2% in rural areas, while 33.6% of children from poor families started child bearing as compared to 6.1 % from the highest wealth quintile.” (Zimbabwe Newspaper)
Due to this and other reasons and following intense advocacy from the education unions and civil society, the Governments of Zimbabwe has amended the Education Act by allowing pregnant girls to attend school.
The amended law has also abolished corporal punishment and the exclusion of students from school for non-payment of school fees.
Considering the Act as a progressive legislation, EI affiliates, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) and Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and educationists welcomed the amendments of the law. ZIMTA expressed full support of the provisions of the new law and specified that most of their inputs were taken into consideration. The union highlighted that corporal punishment had caused a violent society and it is good that it is eliminated from the education system and that the inclusion of pregnant girls will promote the rights of the girl child.
PTUZ welcomed the amendments, emphasing that the new law will protect the rights of girls. The union stressed the need for the Government to engage in continuous dialogue with education unions.
EIRAF welcomes this positive development, as it will contribute to gender equality and the fulfilment of the right to quality education for all.