Farirai Machivenyika-Senior Reporter
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has completed consultations on updating policy to curb bullying in schools and a code of conduct for pupils following a rise in cases that have resulted in loss of life.
In a ministerial statement to the National Assembly on Wednesday, Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Edgar Moyo said the updated policy would be finalised by the end of April.
“My ministry has completed stakeholder consultations on the alignment of policy implementation circulars to the Education Amendment Act. 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.
“I am happy to confirm 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.
“Such documents are now at final editing stage and will be in schools by the end of April 2023. It is a fact that children need to be peaceful if they are to perform well in their school work,” Deputy Minister Moyo said.
The deputy minister issued the statement following the deaths of two pupils in Bulawayo Province.
Wayne Ndlovu (16) from Founders High School was stabbed by a pupil from Hamilton High School when he intervened to save his friend who was under attack while 15-year-old Jayden Sauden from the latter school committed suicide after he also complained of being bullied
In Harare, a 17-year-old from Churu Farm in Glen View was also stabbed to death by another pupil of the same age.
The police are still investigating the matter but the suspect was allegedly defending himself from the victim and his friend, who had been bullying him for breaking a stapler at school.
On the issue of drug and substance abuse, Deputy Minister Moyo said his ministry was part of an inter-ministerial technical working group that the Government had set up to fight the scourge.
“This drug menace is being addressed from a curriculum perspective, where age appropriate information and life skills empowerment is covered through different learning areas. A referral protocol has been developed for the management of identified cases of pupils at risk of various social ills. Admittedly, this is a very serious matter which requires more parental involvement than routine school matters. The same applies to bullying as much as the activities that occur away from school and require more community involvement to complement the effort of the education sector.”
He added that in order to ensure a higher level of safeguarding pupils at all schools, his ministry was currently rolling out a standard guidance and counselling package for pupils in conjunction with other ministries, National Associations of School Heads, civil society organisations, teacher organisations as well as representatives of pupils from Junior Parliament and Junior Council.
“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. Child protection Committees go beyond the school and bring in the Department of Social Welfare, health service providers, local leadership and parent representative into safeguarding the well-being of pupils at schools, in their communities as well as at household level.
“Superintendents, housemasters, senior masters and senior women have been advised to be on guard to ensure 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,” he said.