Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
LECTURERS in universities and colleges as well as teachers in public and private schools who are found guilty of abusing students risk having their degrees and diplomas cancelled by the Government to curb rampant abuse, especially of female learners.
Speaking at a Mkoba Teachers’ College graduation ceremony in Gweru yesterday, the Deputy Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, Dr Godfrey Gandawa, said there was an urgent need to curb the surge in sexual abuse of learners in schools, colleges and universities.
He said cases of abuse of students were rampant.
Dr Gandawa said punishments such as imprisonment or expulsion from work was not enough since perpetrators always ended up teaching elsewhere using their diplomas or degrees.
As such, he said Government was crafting a law that encompasses all the Acts that are used in the running of teachers’ colleges, polytechnics and universities so that it is able to cancel certificates or degrees of those found in the wrong.
“We are in the process of crafting a new law for higher and tertiary education. All higher and tertiary education institutions, teachers’ colleges, polytechnics and universities, private or public will have the same law governing them. So in that same law, that is where we are putting deterrent measures to make sure that we curb such practices (abuse of learners). It’s actually a comprehensive Act,” he said
“Each university has its own Act at the moment, so we have about 20 Acts governing these institutions and the variation of policies causes some disharmony and disorganisation in these institutions. So we feel that once this policy is done it will control malpractices. Even in lecturers we also have this problem where they are asking for sexual favours from female students for pass marks. All that is going to be included in that Act.”
Dr Gandawa said some teachers have raped or impregnated young girls.
“When this happens we start questioning the training and morality of the teacher. For those graduating today, you are expected to engage in behaviour that meets teachers’ responsibilities in ways expected by learners and the society,” he said.
Dr Gandawa said 417 teachers had graduated with 205 being Early Childhood Development teachers and 212 from the general course programme.
“In pursuance of the STEM initiative, I’m informed that in this graduating class, 15 females and 16 males majored in Mathematics and 19 females and 33 males majored in Science, 19,9 percent specialised in Mathematics and Science and it is not enough to implement a science –technology biased curriculum to achieve our national- socio-economic transformation,” he said.