Controversial Buhera South legislator Joseph Chinotimba has thumped his nose at people opposed to the national pledge insisting they should withdraw their children from schools implementing the curriculum if they are not happy with this government initiative.
The national pledge is a proposed new government curriculum for primary and secondary schools, compelling children to salute the national flag and recite a pledge of patriotism, in a move which opposition parties have since described as “fascist”.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora is set to launch the national pledge on May 3, 2016 in all schools nationwide along with a new curriculum which will consist of heritage patriotism subjects.
However, Chinotimba’s statement comes following a heated exchange during Wednesday’s National Assembly session where MDC MP for Binga Constituency Prince Dubeko Sibanda enquired on the basis of introducing such a curriculum.
“Minister, you did very well,” an excited Chinotimba said.
“Those that are not interested should remove their children from school and let our children continue learning,” he said.
But Sibanda raised fears that the national pledge could be used by any political party to manipulate schoolchildren.
While several countries around the world have national pledges, which are oaths of allegiance, opposition parties are wary of Zanu PF’s agenda — pointing at the country’s controversial national youth service where graduates have often become unthinking storm troopers for the governing party.
Deputy Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima defended the curriculum, dismissing Sibanda’s claims as regressive.
“The national pledge is part of the heritage studies that the new curriculum is going to introduce,” Mavima said.
“It is designed to build on the commitment that our learners have to their country. It is not unique to Zimbabwe.
“Many countries have similar pledges and in some countries even legislators, before they start their business, start with a pledge to their country. It is designed to build on patriotism and commitment to one’s country that is the basis of the new national pledge.”
Mavima said the new curriculum had been clearly thought out after a national consensus from all stakeholders including the Constitution.
“The second basis of that consensus is that the new curriculum of which the national pledge is a part to, was done after consultations that took place at every school in this country,” Mavima said to loud interjections from some legislators.
“That consultation at the schools involved parents and all stakeholders. That consultation also took place with members of this House at various levels.
“When we did the initial outreach, we invited members to make contributions. After that, when we did the draft, we also asked members to make a contribution. So, there is no question about whether there was national consensus or not. We made sure that there was consultation and national consensus.”