Thursday, February 28, 2013

(NEWZIMBABWE) Coltart wants teachers out of referendum

Coltart wants teachers out of referendum
27/02/2013 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter

EDUCATION Minister David Coltart has moved to bloc teachers from next month’s constitutional referendum saying their involvement would disrupt cause further disruption to a sector already reeling under concern over falling standards.

Zimbabwe holds a referendum on a new constitution on March 16 and state employees, the bulk of whom are teachers, are usually used as polling officers during elections.

“Schools will be used as polling venues, but not all of them. As a ministry, we are concerned about the disruption of the learning process and we want to minimise the effects,” Coltart was quoted saying by state media.

“My view is that teachers should not be used as polling agents. This is meant to ensure that the learning process is not disrupted. We held a meeting yesterday (Tuesday) with officials from my ministry where we discussed that issue.”

The referendum will be held on a Saturday but Coltart said polling officers would still need to be trained which could mean taking teachers away from classrooms.

“Our officers are looking into the issue and we feel that if ZEC insists, it would be better to release untrained teachers,” he said.

“We would ask them to look for manpower from other Government departments because we do not want the children to be affected by this.”

The Parliamentary constitutional committee (Copac) is already carrying out a campaign to publicise the draft new constitution which has been endorsed by all the parties in the coalition government.

Political parties outside the unity government have yet to make their positions clear but civil society groups such as the National Constitutional Assembly have called for a rejection of the new charter, dismissing it as a political compromise between the coalition parties.

New elections to end the uneasy unity government between President Robert Mugabe and long-term rival Morgan Tsvangirai are expected to be held later in the year whether or not the Copac draft becomes the country’s new supreme law.

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