Wednesday, 4 May 2016

NATIONAL PLEDGE OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED

Government yesterday defended the national Pledge arguing that the wording was extracted from the preamble of the national Constitution which was overwhelmingly adopted by millions of Zimbabweans during the referendum held three years ago. 

 The pledge, which aims to instil patriotism and commitment to the national interest, was introduced a fortnight ago and was officially launched at Harare High School by Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Dr Sylvia Utete-Masango yesterday and replicated in all the country’s 10 provinces. Dr Utete-Masango said children needed to familiarise themselves with the new Constitution and cherish the value of hard work.

She said the education system did not have a philosophy that underpins it and the philosophy of hunhu/ubuntu, the value system and identity, was embedded in the new curriculum.
THE NATIONAL PLEDGE
Almighty God, in whose hands our future lies, I salute the national flag. 
United in our diversity by our common desire for freedom, justice and equality.
Respecting the brave fathers and mothers who lost lives in the Chimurenga/ Umvukela
and national liberation struggles.
We are proud inheritors of our national resources.
We are proud creators and participants in our vibrant traditions and cultures. 
We commit to honesty and the dignity of hard work
“We have our national symbols. For example, we have the Flag and anyone who is Zimbabwean cannot say I don’t subscribe to the Flag because this is a national symbol. We also have the Constitution. Because the Constitution is the highest law of the land, who can say I don’t subscribe to the Constitution? The wording of the Pledge is actually derived from the preamble,” she said.

“This is part and parcel of the new curriculum. We are trying to strengthen the issues to do with our value system, heritage and who we are as a people. The new curriculum is underpinned by a philosophy.”

The launch comes as the quasi-political Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights acting on behalf of a Harare man is contesting the constitutionality of the requirement. The father of three school-going children who is fronting the challenge said the pledge was unconstitutional and against his religious beliefs.
This, he said, was not his understanding of prayer shared by his faith, which reserved worship to God alone. He contends that the national pledge is offensive to his religious convictions and thus befouls various sections of the supreme law of the country.

The man’s children are attending Mashambanhaka Secondary School National Pledge officially launched in Murehwa and Chizungu Primary School in Epworth.

Hundreds of parents and guardians in Harare yesterday thronged schools to listen to their children recite the national pledge as the new term began after Government issued a directive that they should attend. When The Herald visited Zengeza 2 High, St Mary’s Mission Primary, Harare High, and Tangenhamo Primary schools, parents could be seen jostling to hear their children recite the national pledge.

After the pledge, parents ululated and presented gifts to their children in a prize-giving day fashion. Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Professor Paul Mavhima said the pledge was expected to build individual consciousness and commitment to children about their country.

In the pledge, children promised their allegiance to God and the national flag and pay their respect to “brave fathers and mothers who lost their lives in the Chimurenga/Umvukela”.

“The national pledge was done today in all provinces. It is derived from our national Constitution and is not unique to Zimbabwe. Our Constitution’s preamble has that commitment. It is part of our heritage studies which is an emphasis in the new curriculum,” he said.

Questioned if they faced resistance from schools, even trust schools, Prof Mavhima said: “We cannot mount a war with schools. We will persuade them,” he said. He said that in America, before Cabinet or Parliament commences, they start with a pledge of allegiance and in Britain, they have the oath of allegiance and a pledge. Prof Mavhima said foreigners were not obligated to make the pledge.

“I was in the American system as a foreigner and I was not forced to take their pledge. The American pledge is not only for schoolchildren it is for all public functions,” said Prof Mavhima. However, parents interviewed yesterday expressed mixed feelings arguing that they should have been consulted first.

“I am against the pledge because my children are forced to salute to a superior human being who as parent, I am not familiar with. I am a traditional person. Why are they forcing my child to recite that the Constitution gives us the freedom of worship and association?” said a Mbare resident, Mr Leonard Takawira.

“The words that are in the national pledge were derived from the Constitution that we voted for as Zimbbweans.There is nothing wrong with my children reciting the pledge as they are committing to hard work and honesty. That is what I want as a parent,” said Mr Takaidza Takaidza of Chitungwiza. herald

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