‘Tertiary students must be taught the constitution’

The Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) has embarked on a national awareness programme to educate tertiary students about the country’s constitution.

Research that was conducted by the Civic Engagement for Accountability and Democracy in Zimbabwe (CEADZ) in September revealed that almost 41 percent of the citizens have never heard of the country’s constitution, while 68 percent were unaware of their fundamental rights and freedoms as Zimbabweans.

In an interview with CITE, ZIMCET Research and Advocacy Lead, Collen Chibango, said the organisation has targeted students for its awareness campaign so that young people understand what the constitution is about and its significance to citizenry.

“This project was motivated by the need to provide knowledge. Studies by the Mass Public Opinion Institute and other renowned institutions such as PACT indicate that more than 70 percent of Zimbabweans, particularly the young people don’t know what the constitution entails,” he said.

The researcher noted that ZIMCET’s campaign would not only educate but empower young people about their rights and responsibilities.

“In turn, we will rely on the youth to peer educate others, their families and communities about the constitutional provisions of their rights and responsibilities, along with what can be done under the constitution or not,” Chibango said.

Concentration on tertiary students was also necessary, said Chibango, as this was the stage where young people became more enlightened about realities of society.

“We believe tertiary students are more enlightened and are the torch bearers of society. ZIMCET believes that if we empower students and any young person, we are likely to achieve more results than going individually to communities,” he said.

The advocate noted that from previous lectures, students had come out well versed and even started making conversation about its limitations.

“I think we are mostly likely to achieve our aim because our lectures so far have been interactive, as students responded uniquely and quite well and more importantly had interesting questions,” he said.

Chibango claimed that young people’s lack of interest in governance issues was because they lacked knowledge or did not understand Zimbabwean laws.

“We discovered that when parliamentary committees hold public hearings, youths do not attend those meetings as they would be unaware of the proposed bills or current acts that need to be revised. Therefore we are hoping that with an enhanced knowledge of the country’s constitution, there would be more participation by young people in governance matters,” said the research advocate.

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