Murwira invites backlash over anti-free education statement 

Source: Murwira invites backlash over anti-free education statement –Newsday Zimbabwe

According to Section 75 of the Constitution, it is the government’s obligation to ensure that education is free and accessible to all learners of school-going age.

STUDENTS have blown the fuse over Higher and Tertiary Education minister Amon Murwira’s statement that there is no free education and learners should engage in fees-for-work programmes.

Scores of university students were unable to write examinations and had to defer their studies after failing to pay tuition fees.

According to Section 75 of the Constitution, it is the government’s obligation to ensure that education is free and accessible to all learners of school-going age.

However, during a recent question-and-answer session in the National Assembly, Murwira reiterated that education was not free.

Zimbabwe National Students Union secretary-general Emmanuel Nyakudya told NewsDay that the minister’s comment was untruthful and misleading.

“To start with, his statement is a total violation of Section 75(1)(a) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe,” Nyakudya said.

“A very good chunk of all these professors and doctors we have are a fine example of cohorts that learnt under free education in Zimbabwe and were actually getting stipends, what really has changed?

“Education should never in any way seem like a very expensive commodity when it is a public good which will benefit the whole society.”

He said Murwira’s comment that suggested students undertake work-for-fees programmes was dehumanising and humiliating. Unions representing teachers reiterated Zinasu’s sentiments.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe leader Obert Masaraure said Murwira’s comment confirmed the long held view that there was an anti-people brigade presiding over the affairs of Zimbabwe.

“The people of Zimbabwe unanimously resolved that education should be accessible to all people on May 16, 2013 through a constitutional referendum,” Masaraure said.

“Murwira alone can’t delete the will of the people which now finds expression in the supreme law of the land.

“Education is not a commodity for sale but an investment into the development of Zimbabwe.”

Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said Murwira was ironically a beneficiary of free education. “The minister should be reminded that those who provided free education to him did so because they acted responsibly with the meagre resources they had,” he said.

However, the Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (Zicosu) said the minister’s sentiment was justified.

“Realistically, education is not for free and it can never be because looking at institutions and their day-to-day running and their logistical undertakings to deliver standard education, they need float and funding,” Zicosu leader Pijiwest Nhamburo.

Nhamburo said government had since 2019 availed funding for student loans.

“The funds are there but it is very unfortunate to say since the enactment of the loan facility, a handful of students have actually gone to get access to the funding,” he said.

“The minister is speaking from the perspective that he was the chief initiator of this project after we had cried so much as student representative bodies that the government had to intervene.”