What is the right to education?


Recently the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Professor Amon Murwira made claims about the right to education, which this article seeks to elaborate.

The right to education refers to a guarantee of being entitled to education that is accessible, affordable, and available for everyone.

Where is it founded upon?

This is founded on Section 75 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as well as Section 4 of the Education Act (Chapter 25:04) which both state that every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to a basic State-funded education.

In terms of Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the right to education is also a human right, a right granted to one person by being human regardless of gender, status, race, nationality, etc.

What does it entail? According to the provisions of the Constitution, all citizens and permanent residents of Zimbabwe have a right to basic state-funded education. All basic education is free, and the government is obliged to pay for that. However, this is not the reality.

The government is obliged to take progressive measures to make sure citizens and permanent residents enjoy their right to education.

The right to establish independent educational institutions is now protected under the constitution thereby promoting the right to education.
The government is also tasked with ensuring that there are progressive measures to ensure that further education is available (college, university)

How the Education Amendment Act, 2020 aligns with the Constitution

To align with the Constitution, the Amendment Act prohibits the exclusion of pregnant girls from school and therefore guarantees the right to education.

The Amendment Act further provides that every school provide suitable infrastructure for students with disabilities and requires government authorities to ensure disability rights are protected and accounted for in every school in the country.

The law reasserts the constitutional protection that students should not pay fees, or levies, from preschool up to Form 4, the end of lower secondary education, and says no pupil shall be excluded from school for non-payment of school fees.

The Amendment Act further aims to protect against sexual abuse at schools. It provides that the Minister may make regulations to manage sexual abuse cases in schools.

This allows girls to report any sexual misconduct and get help within the schools.

The Amendment Act provides the provision of sanitary wear and other menstrual health facilities to girls in all schools to promote menstrual health.

Can it be limited?

Just like any other right, the right to education can be limited where it is reasonable and demonstrably justified.