Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora has defended the recitation of the National Pledge in schools saying it was not a prayer, but a commitment that is necessary for nation-building. Responding to the constitutional challenge by a parent who does not want his three school-going children to be compelled to recite the pledge, Minister Dokora said there was nothing unconstitutional about the pledge.
In his opposing affidavit filed at the Constitutional Court yesterday by Government lawyers, the minister argued that the parent‘s objection was misplaced and an indication that he did not fully understand and appreciate its
He argued that the pledge does not, in any way violate the constitutional rights of parents and their children. “Applicant’s objection on the grounds of religion is misplaced. The national school pledge is not a prayer in any form.
“There is nothing inappropriate in the wording. It is clearly not a prayer but simply a pledge or commitment which begins by exalting Almighty God. There is nothing wrong in acknowledging God at the beginning of the school pledge,” reads Minister Dokora’s opposing affidavit.
The minister urged the Constitutional Court to throw out the challenge saying the idea of a pledge and its wording came from the supreme law of the country. “There is nothing wrong in acknowledging God at the beginning of the school pledge. The preamble to the Constitution of Zimbabwe sets out to speak as ‘We the people of Zimbabwe’ and then proceeds to acknowledge the Almighty God.
“There is no other God that is acknowledged in the school pledge, neither does the school pledge demand worshipping or bowing to any other god,” he said. Minister Dokora said the pledge was an integral part of the country’s new educational framework.
“The new framework is premised on among other things, values, so eloquently described by the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training (CIET) chaired by Dr Caiphas Nziramasanga as missing from our education system.
“CIET states that education philosophy should be based on Unhu/Ubuntu which implies a good person morally with such values as honesty, trustworthiness, discipline, accountability, respect for other people and elders, harmony and hospitality,” he said.
The minister said the pledge was a way of boosting patriotism. “The school pledge is meant to foster patriotism, unity, values and discipline among the learners. The words, as indicated, are drawn from the Constitution. “It does not replace any existing prayers used to open school assembly sessions. It is a teaching exercise and not a religious observance,” he said.
The pledge, Minister Dokora said, does not violate any constitutional rights and that it is not a religious instruction. The court hearing has provisionally been set down for June 29 this year.By Daniel Nemukuyu-source-chronicle