The proposed Education Amendment Bill has torched debate among citizens, particularly clause 68(d)(1) of the Bill that prohibits pupils from being expelled from school after falling pregnant, with many conservative participants at public hearings saying it sets a bad precedent for children and may lead to promiscuity.
However, some participants are in favour of the amendment arguing it creates equality and recognises girl child’s right to education.
The proposed Education Amendment Bill in clause 68(d)(1) prohibits pupils from being expelled from school because of pregnancy. This will allow school children to be accorded maternity leave and return to school after giving birth.
However this has not gone well with conservative people who argue that pregnancy outside marriage was morally wrong when looked from the perspective of their religious and cultural beliefs.
Pastor Chipo Chitawe from The House Of God Assemblies said that the Bill, if passed into law, would promote child pregnancies and fornication, which are prohibited in the bible.
A parent, Loveness Soko condemned the law saying it serves as a bad example to other school girls who may chose to get pregnant knowing there would be no punishment thereafter.
“That law is very bad. What did they expect to see other pupils doing while they are learning with someone who have chosen to be pregnant at school and get away with it? She has chosen that kind of life, let her take care of the child.”
A Johanne Masowe leader in Kuwadzana, Jeremiah Mhizha furiously commented: “Schools must not be converted into maternity homes. Let those who have failed because of their choices and fall pregnant stay at home. They would no longer be regarded as pupils, they are mothers. A rotten apple spoils the barrel.”
The proposed Education Amendment Bill has, however, been applauded by a number of people saying it was a blessing to every Zimbabwean as it creates equality and gives every child the right to education.
A form 4 student at Dzivarasekwa High 2, Nyasha Nyakuhwa has said that the move was welcome as it helps most girls who become pregnant at school and had limited options, like going very expensive private colleges to finish their education, which most families could not afford. Pregnancy marked the end of their carrier options.
A teacher at Madyangove Primary school, Nancy Mutenhi has said that with the number of children dropping out of school due to pregnancy, the Bill Amendment had come at the right time.
She said it will bring equality between a girl and boy child, as she noted that in practice girls are expelled and not boys responsible for the pregnancy.
A law student at the University of Zimbabwe, Tatenda Moyo praised the Amendment Bill saying it shows that Zimbabwe is serious about moving towards attaining goal 4.1 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that states by 2030, all girls and boys should complete free, equitable and equality primary and secondary education.
By Rutendo Bamu