Justice for Children has noted with concern the images and videos of learners in schools around Zimbabwe engaging in inappropriate suggestive sexual behaviour that have been circulating on social media platforms. The government of Zimbabwe announced the reopening of schools in 3 phases, with the exam classes being grade 7, form 4 and upper 6 opening on 28 September 2020. This comes almost 6 months since the closure of schools as a result of the COVID 19 pandemic. Learners have been undergoing home schooling in their homes under the guidance and supervision of their parents. Zimbabwe is currently in an economic recession which has seen teachers advising that they are incapacitated and they have indicated that they will be unable to resume classes. Upon their return to their respective schools for the resumption of classes on 28th September 2020, exam classes’ learners have found themselves without teachers. This therefore means that the learners have not resumed lessons in preparation for exams and further that they are not under any adult supervision and monitoring. These conditions in the schools has led to the learners running amok and recording videos and taking images of themselves partaking in sexually suggestive activities.
In light of the above, Justice for Children calls upon the government and all stakeholders in the education sector to:
- Accelerate resolution of the salary impasse between the government of Zimbabwe and the various Teachers Unions as this is a continued violation of the children’s right to education.
- Reconsider the reopening of schools until such a time when the teachers are in a position to resume lessons and are at their respective stations. Children should return to their homes and continue home schooling in preparation for their exams.
- Be considerate when circulating videos and images on social media as this is a form of cyber bullying and is also a violation of the rights to dignity, privacy and security of the children afforded to them under the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
In light of the images circulating on social media, we call upon parents and guardians to impress upon our children the long term impact of such social media content on their future well-being in various spheres of life including social, work life and family by emphasing that the social media footprint is permanent and sometimes unforgiving with passing time