UNICEF Zimbabwe has commended the government and the opposition MDC Alliance, for remembering the Day of the African Child while calling on Zimbabweans in general to protect children as the country braces for the July 30 harmonised elections.
In a statement, UNICEF Representative, Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya called on government to provide access to quality education for all children and for Zimbabwe’s adolescents to have the same skill development opportunities as those in rich countries.
“UNICEF is committed to delivering for all children and adolescents. We want every young person to be in school, learning, training or employed by 2030,” he said.
“To achieve this, more young people must be in education, they must have opportunities to develop the skills for learning, employment, personal empowerment, leadership and resilience. And they need more opportunities, like this event, to share their views and opinions.”
UNICEF said it was pleased by calls from all to ensure that children are safe during the election period and that their learning is not disrupted especially through attendance of political rallies.
However, there have been a lot of complaints about the use of children at political gatherings especially those addressed by the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
On Monday, 11 June 2018 at a rally at Chizanga Primary School in Mutoko, several schools from Maramba, Uzumba and Pfungwe had to suspend learning as teachers and school children were forced to attend the Zanu Pf rally where President Munangagwa addressed.
On Friday 15 June 2018, there was the same scenario in Masvingo where learning was literarily suspended in schools around town including Mucheke High School as President Munangagwa was set to address in Mucheke Stadium.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) issued a statement saying: “ARTUZ condemns in strongest terms the repetitive use of (former president Robert) Mugabe’s tactics by President Munangagwa and ZANU PF and call the ls upon government to implement the recommendations by the Commission or face legal action in the highest courts of the land. Education is a fundamental right and that right must be respected.”
ARTUZ called on SADC, the AU and UN agencies to put pressure on the Zimbabwean government to honour its obligation by barring political activities in schools in line with our “Safe Schools Campaign”
Meanwhile, speaking at the Opening of the 26th Session the Zimbabwe Junior Parliament, in Harare, the incoming Junior President, Innocent Chikwanda, highlighted the progress made so far by the country in improving the welfare of children in health, education, protection, climate change and protection.