Desmond Nleya, Chronicle Reporter
GOVERNMENT will this year identify and help undocumented children acquire the necessary documents.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is set to partner with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare in the exercise.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Matabeleland South Provincial Education Director, Mr Lifias Masukume said teams will be going around schools identifying and helping undocumented children get birth certificates
“We plan to roll out this programme this year and we will be moving with the Officers from the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare so that we identify children who might be having problems in acquiring birth certificates. In the meantime, parents and guardians who are faced with challenges in acquiring birth certificates may approach the Ministry,” he said.
According to a 2012 census, there are more than a million children aged between 0-18 years in Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South and about half of them do not have birth certificates.
Many of these undocumented children find it it difficult to enrol at school and again face problem when they want to acquire national identiy cards.
The Government recently authorised children without birth certificates to sit for national examinations because education is a right.
Mr Masukume warned schools against withholding pupils’ results for outstanding fees.
“Schools have no right to withhold learners’ results because it is the parents or guardians who have the obligation to pay fees,” he said.
Matabeleland North Provincial Education Director, Mr Jabulani Mpofu echoed Mr Masukume’s sentiments.
“It is not allowed for the school to withhold pupils’ results as the contract to sit for public exams is between the pupil and ZIMSEC not the school. In any case, the school should approach the parents and not the learner”, said Mr Mpofu.
Some schools continue to withhold learners’ results due to non-payment of fees.
A villager in Bulilima West, Matabeleland South, Mrs Tjilumbi Dube (83) alleged that she failed to collect Grade 7 results for her grandson due to outstanding fees.
“I am failing to apply for a Form One place for my grandson because I owe the school $250. At my age, I can’t afford to raise the money. What has worsened his case is that he does not have a birth certificate because his parents dumped him when he was only three years old,” she said.
Recently, the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry said it was unlawful for schools to withhold school results for pupils.
“The Ministry’s position is that education is the inalienable right of every child while the payment of fees and levies is the responsibility of parents or guardians. Heads of schools are directed to release any results that they may be withholding to enable the learners to proceed with their education without hinderance. Disregarding the directive given will have adverse consequences’,’ said the Minister. — @dazzyndazi