Education ministry rolls out Child Protection Committees

as part of strategies to curb bullying

As part of anti-bullying strategies, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education intends to establish Child Protection Committees in all schools, update bullying circulars, create a Standard Code of Conduct for all students in Zimbabwe, and mentor school staff on guidance and counselling.

This was revealed in a ministerial statement on bullying in schools by Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Edgar Moyo, following the death of two Bulawayo students who were allegedly bullied in school. 

One is from Founders High School called Wayne Ndlovu who was stabbed by another student on the neck with an okapi knife on February 13, 2023 and the other -Jayden Sauden from Hamilton High School who committed suicide on March 8, 2023 with reports attribting it to bullying but the education ministry said this followed a misunderstanding at home with his grandparents and nuclear family.

Bullying, along with vandalism, alcoholism, and disobedience of authority, is listed as one of the most serious acts of indiscipline at the administrative level, according to the deputy minister, in Policy Circular Number P35.

“The ministry has completed stakeholder consultations on the alignment of policy implementation circulars to the Education Amendment Act,” Moyo said.

“This has resulted in the updating of circulars on bullying as well as the production of a Standard Code of Conduct for all pupils across Zimbabwe,” and confirmed that “all senior and middle managers as well as school leadership participated in the consultations and made their inputs into the updating of policy implementation circulars aimed at improving the quality of pupil safeguarding at all schools.”

These documents are now at final editing stage and will be in schools by the end of April 2023, said the deputy minister.

“It is a fact that children need to be peaceful if they are to perform well in their school work.”   

The deputy minister said in order to provide  a higher level of safeguarding at all schools, the Ministry is currently rolling out a Standard Guidance and Counselling Package for the purpose of pupils.

“Such a package is the product of teamwork involving other ministries, National Associations of School Heads, civil society organisations, teacher organisations as well as representatives of pupils themselves, Junior Parliament and Junior Council,” he said. 

Another package has been developed and is currently being rolled out to all school clusters in order to mainstream the effective functioning of Child Protection Committees at every school, said the deputy minister.

“Child protection Committees go beyond the school and bring in the Department of Social Welfare, health service providers, local leadership and parent representatives into safeguarding the well-being of pupils at schools, in their communities as well as at household level,” said the deputy minister.

“Superintendents, housemasters, senior masters and senior women have been advised to be on guard to make sure that bullying does not occur in their schools. It is not prudent to assume that bullying is non-existent. At times it may not surface while in actual fact the victims will be suffering quietly.”

There is also a need for adequate preparation of staff for guidance and counselling, said Moyo , noting that Provincial Education Directors (PEDs) and District Schools Inspectorate (DSIs) have been asked to arrange workshops where all concerned staff members would look into guidance and counselling issues to eradicate bullying.

“Such workshops would enable those responsible for discipline in hostels to share experiences and good practices,” he said.

The deputy minister stated that the Education Act, together with the child safety imperatives that the Ministry observes, is implemented at the legislative level in close collaboration with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour, and Social Welfare.

“In addition, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and that of Health and Child Care jointly signed the Zimbabwe School Health Policy which, among other concerns, addresses the issue of safe school environments.  Under this, issues of bullying and other psychosocial ills that impact on the physical and mental well-being of pupils are among the top priorities,” Moyo said.

While schools are places of learning, they are part of the community, Moyo said, noting that in the broader sense, learning occurs not just in the classroom but also in the environment that people live in.

“It takes a village to raise a child and my Ministry cannot do it alone.  A school without an effective guidance and counselling programme is a fertile ground for bullying, substance and drug abuse and other social ills.  It is the responsibility of all schools and supervisors to work with the school parent assemblies, local leadership and all stakeholders in order to make sure that their schools are safe havens for the human capital development of our nation,” he said.

“All schools are therefore required to concentrate on the transmission of humanistic values through the teaching of guidance and counselling, heritage studies, family and religious and moral education and the indigenous languages.”

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