Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
THE government disapproves of early child marriages and teenage pregnancies as they are detrimental to the country’s socio-economic growth, Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday. VP Mnangagwa said the “business of any child was in the classroom” and young girls and boys should not be deprived of their right to education by being forced into early marriages.
Addressing teachers, educationists and parents at the launch of the 2015 Global Action Week which focuses on the Right to Education at Chaplin High School in Gweru, he said young children should be supported for them to reach university or vocational training centres for life skills.
The VP, who is also the Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, said children’s right to education was being compromised by harmful religious and cultural practices.
He said early marriages, teen pregnancies and other harmful social practices took learners away from school.
“The government deplores early marriages, it deplores teenage pregnancies. The government has and continues to frown upon such practices. The business of children is in school, not in houses as house wives or teen husbands,” VP Mnangagwa said.
“Children must go to school, they must finish their secondary education and go to universities or vocational colleges and then think of starting families after that. Even before they start their families after college, they must be able to assist their parents and guardians who would have assisted them to go to school.”
He said most of the times, young people who are forced into marriages go back to their parents or guardians begging for food because they cannot afford a better life since they are uneducated.
The VP urged young boys and girls to stop thinking about marrying or starting families, saying even their bodies do not allow.
“Education brings food on the table and not early marriages. Marriage doesn’t bring food on the table. Why get married when you’ll go back to your parents to ask for food? Marriage is good when your bodies are strong, when you’re now a young man or woman.”
VP Mnangagwa said the advancement of any country was dependent on the levels of education of its people.
He said Zimbabwe’s education system had undergone massive expansion as a result of the government’s commitment in providing education for all.
At independence, he said, the government adopted progressive policies that regarded education as a basic need and a fundamental human right.
“The policy also aimed to bridge the gap in access to education between the disadvantaged black community and the more prosperous whites. To that end, the government’s campaign focused on increasing access and ensuring that education was brought to the doorstep of every child,” he said.
“As Zimbabwe continues to subscribe to the policy of universal basic education, the schools under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education are considered as vehicles to empower each learner to realise his/her dreams, according to their environment, varying aptitudes, interest and abilities from ECD up to Advanced Level.”
VP Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe was a signatory to the Dakar Framework of Action of 2000 which sought to attain the education for all goals by 2015.
“In 2005, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education put up a national EFA framework as a road map to attain the EFP goals. I take pride in the fact that the government has done all in its ability to ensure that the goals have been attained, for example over successive years the education sector has been awarded the highest chunk in the fiscus.
“The government has ensured that the Ministry of Education has received above 20 percent of the budget vote in tandem with Unesco benchmark of 20 percent of the national budget and 6 percent of the GDP.”
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Lazarus Dokora said the action week gave the government and its partners an opportunity to make the right to education a success.