Source: Govt halts Scripture Union in schools | The Sunday Mail 24/04/2016
UNCERTAINTY surrounds activities of Scripture Union Zimbabwe in schools following an instruction by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to halt all activities until they are found to be in line with the new curriculum.
This emerged at an April 15 meeting between Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora and the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations in Harare.
Scripture Union, a Bible-reading movement which has operated in Zimbabwe for 70 years and now has a footing in about 3 000 schools, has to proceed through a memorandum of understanding with the ministry.
Schools open in a fortnight.
Scripture Union Zimbabwe national director Mr Kudakwashe Gwemende said, “We have operated using these circulars which are released by the ministry. However since November 2014 we have had some headmasters wanting fresh letters by as early as June 2015, before even a year had lapsed.
“Now we just heard that the ministry had ordered through a meeting for all activities conducted by Scripture Union in schools to be stopped.
So it was difficult for us to see what to do now without another written letter because you don’t work from word of mouth.
“We waited for minutes of the meeting or a letter. We haven’t seen that official communication and we were told to wait until January 4. And there has not been anything since.”
A ministry official who declined to be named said Government intended to adopt a multi-faith system in schools.
Responding to such a possibility, Mr Gwemende said: “It looks like it’s a fair position but personally I don’t think it’s a fair position because I (as a Christian) am home. Some religions come and they are equated like me, it’s not fair.
“You should go to the Arab countries today, you follow their way of doing things so to then say we want to be equal it doesn’t make sense.
“As SU we don’t have a position yet because things have not been officialised so you don’t respond to what has not been officialised.
“We are in a difficult situation because we were promised and that promise did not come through. And the minister has suggested a Memorandum of Understanding, for us that will be fine depending on what is on the MOU.”
Scripture Union movements in neighbouring countries also work via memoranda of understanding with education ministries.
In Botswana an MoU emanated from alleged manifestation of Satanism in schools.
The ministry of education requested and funded the Scripture Union to pray and teach in schools.
For Zambia, the Ministry of Education has officially instructed Scripture Union as the only organisation that is allowed to conduct its activities in schools.
“There is that kind of understanding but I don’t think this is the position in Zimbabwe,” Mr Gwemende.
He said the Scripture Union helped with children’s character formation, assisting in developing integrity through hard work and family values.
“Those qualities that would be desirable in a society: respect of authority, training people how to lead and having a heart for other people.
“In our social responsibility department we look after orphans. We cloth and feed them, pay for fees as well as send them to hospital when they are sick.
“We also have life skills aimed at empowering young people inspite of their faith to make well informed decisions about issues of life, not just being influenced by peers and we teach them to handle their sexuality responsibly,” he said.