After School’ Pledge’, Harare Council-Introduces, Controversial , Primary Pupils, HIV Testing.

CHAOS reportedly reigned supreme at many council-run primary schools in Harare this week, as parents and activists resisted attempts to test children for the HIV virus, forcing the programme to be postponed indefinitely.

According to notices given to pupils, the programme was spearheaded by the city’s health department.

“As city health department, Rujeko Clinic, sponsored by Child Protection Society, shall be visiting your school to assess the health of your students, as well as testing for HIV (consenting children only) from Grade 0 to Grade 7,” the notice read.

 “Please accompany your child or give a written consent that we can file.”

As soon as members of Zimbabwe Activists’ Association (ZAA) and Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance got wind of the programme on Wednesday, they rushed to mobilise parents to resist the programme.

“We spoke to parents who were already at the school and other residents. Parents were given letters of consent to sign if they wanted their kids to be tested or not. About 30 parents took their kids for the exercise, with many absenting their kids from school to boycott the exercise,” ZAA leader Lynette Mudehwe said.

“As ZAA, we are worried by the government’s continued behaviour of not consulting citizens on issues regarding our children. Who did they consult on this ill-advised bogus project? Our children are not guinea pigs. Our children’s rights must be respected.”

She said parents in Dzivaresekwa rejected the exercise by making their children boycott school this week.

“We urge citizens of Zimbabwe to remain vigilant and reject anything imposed on them without consultation,” Mudehwe said.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson, Patrick Zumbo distanced the ministry from the exercise.

Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme confirmed council was behind the HIV testing programme.

“We are aware of the programme. It has, however, been temporarily suspended to allow for full consultations. The rationale is that in most cases, HIV is discovered in children when it is too late to start treatment,” he said. By Obey Manayiti. source-newsday

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