Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
THERE is no going back on the school pledge as the move is meant to make children appreciate the country’s heritage, philosophy, identity and patriotism at a tender age, a senior Government official has said.
Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango said the pledge would motivate pupils to cherish their Zimbabwean identity and value their tradition.
This comes as opposition political parties said the move was a “fascist idea” that was against children’s rights.
Dr Utete-Masango said the national pledge was not “coming from nowhere”, as proper consultations had been done.
“In terms of the curriculum review guided by the Nziramasanga report, we took back the narrative report and the draft framework through consultative meetings where stakeholders buttressed the issue of philosophy, identity, patriotism and heritage,” she said.
“Our curriculum is promoting the legal and regulatory framework right from pupil’s tender age and our principles are promoting respect (hunhu-ubuntu) among our children. It is not just a question of recitation. It goes beyond that and the learner grows up knowing who they truly are.”
Dr Utete-Masango said Government stood guided by the Constitution.
“The preamble of the Constitution is where we got the words of the national pledge. All we had to do, with the approval of the Ministry of Justice, was to play around with words in the preamble of the Constitution,” she said.
“I do not think there is any doctrination to this. Who does not want to pledge their hard work? After all, and with this pledge, we are ripping corruption along the way as indicated in the pledge.”
She said the pledge was not politically aligned to any party.
“We are not indoctrinating the young people to have allegiance to any particular party. Whether you support this political party or the next, we all have a common ground as Zimbabweans and we ought to teach our children an appreciation of our cultural background as a nation,” she said.
She said the pledge was being recited in all the country’s vernacular languages as it aimed at preserving all corners of the Zimbabwean culture.
“The problem is nitpicking as some people always want to find something bad in every new system that is introduced. We ought to put criticism behind and acknowledge efforts to shape children around the country’s values,” she said.
“Children are inheritors of the richness of the natural heritage and the words they are reciting are really pregnant with motivational meaning-showing the significance of saluting the country’s flagship.”
Veteran educationist Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga said citizen education was important in promoting the country’s values.
“Certainly the need for national identity is more necessary now than at any time. Only those people who thrive in chaos, violence, disorder and division would dislike that children learn to cherish these fundamental values that identify us as a nation with its outstanding image,” he said. “Our children learn to know, understand, believe who they are and why they are different from other people of other nations even though they live in this interconnected world rejecting knowledge on national and personal identity for our future citizens is the worst of personal image.”
Another educationist and lecturer in the Department of Technical Education at University of Zimbabwe, Dr Peter Kwaira, said: “Fascism entails more than just a pledge and for some critics to declare that the national pledge is a fascist idea is unjustifiable. We can only say its fascism after thorough investigations.
“Every system or family has its own values so does Zimbabwe, hence making children recite a pledge is fairly important in inculcating our youngsters with their historical background.”