The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) joins the nation of Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa in commemorating Africa Day on the 25th of May.

Africa Day is a historic day that marks the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the precursor to the African Union (AU).

This year, 2024 Africa Day is being commemorated under the theme “Educate an African fit for the 21st Century: Building resilient education systems for increased access to inclusive lifelong quality and relevant learning in Africa”

On Africa Day, Africa celebrates its successes and achievements and embraces its unique experiences.

The day serves as a reminder to every African of the need for solidarity and cohesion to tackle common challenges, united as people of common heritage as envisaged by the African Union Agenda 2063.

African countries are at varying stages of democratization while facing emerging issues affecting the continent in the form of economic crises, energy crises, limited benefits from globalization, climate change and combined, these factors have had a negative impact on enjoyment of political, economic and social rights.

The ZHRC has been actively involved in both the African and International treaty body and Charter based mechanisms.

Over the years, ZHRC mandate to promote compliance with human rights standards has been further strengthened by its affiliate status with both international and regional bodies including the Committee on the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (ACHPR) and the Network of African Human Rights Institutions (NANHRI) and the African Ombudsman and Mediators Association (AOMA).

In an effort to strengthen reporting mechanisms in Zimbabwe, the ZHRC submitted its alternative Report to the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child in 2023.

From 2021 to 2023 the ZHRC chaired the NANHRI and has been actively involved in the protection of the rights of migrants through the NANHRI Working Group on Migration. 

This year’s theme focuses on the imperative to prioritise an integrated education system capable of equipping Africans with comprehensive skills to tackle those challenges.

The theme resonates quite well with Africa’s Development blueprint Agenda 2063 goal to have well educated citizens and skills revolution underpinned by science, technology and innovation.

The right to education is provided for in the African Human Rights Instruments such as African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

In Zimbabwe, section 75 of the Constitution provides for the right to education including a basic State-funded education that encompasses adult basic education. 

The Commission applauds the Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) for embracing the AU comprehensive roadmap unveiled at the 37thsummit priority areas to revitalise education systems in the continent.

Notably, Education 5.0 model and 6 innovation hubs are aimed at facilitating innovative thinking and industrialization, consequently increasing access to inclusive lifelong quality and relevant learning in Zimbabwe.

The GoZ has since attainment of independence in 1980 invested heavily in improvement of access to resilient and comprehensive education systems.

Recently enacted policies on inclusive education for children with disabilities and reintegration of pregnant and adolescent mothers into the education system, and non-exclusion of children from classes for non-payment of school fess augur well with inclusive education.  

Resilient education systems foster critical thinking and creativity and envisage a learner placed in a conducive learning environment with well-trained teaching personnel and adequate learning materials.

Despite the starling efforts towards provision of access to education in Zimbabwe, several factors militate against the provision of holistic and quality education, such as shortage of teaching and learning resources, low moral for teachers due to inadequate remuneration and incentives, unsatisfactory working conditions as well as the brain drain particularly of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) teachers.

Learners from poor backgrounds are more disadvantaged as they are not able to offer any pecuniary benefits to the teachers in order to access quality education.

Technical factors such as lack of appropriate and adequate technology, scarcity of hardware and software in schools, limited expertise of teachers, lack of electricity and internet connectivity are some of the factors affecting integration of ICT in the education sector to improve the quality of education particularly in rural areas. 

More investment in education is therefore needed to enable the country to offer education fit for the 21st Century and building a resilient education system for increased access to inclusive lifelong quality and relevant learning whereby  learners reach their full potential enabling them to contribute towards building the continent.

In addition, the GoZ of Zimbabwe should prioritize addressing grievance of teachers over remuneration and working conditions for teachers in the public sector.

The general public should be conscientised on the importance of paying school fees in time and honouring drawn up school fees payment plans.  

The ZHRC takes this opportunity to congratulate the Chairperson, Ms F.J Majome for her election by the Network of African National Human Rights Institutions to represent southern Africa at the Global Alliance for National Human Rights Institutions.

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