Bill Watch 31/2019

Progress on Bills

21 June 2019

The Bill did not come up for discussion on 20th June.
Continuation of the Second Reading debate is listed as item 1 on the National
Assembly’s Order Paper for next Tuesday, 25th June.
Education Amendment Bill [link]
The National Assembly devoted most of Tuesday afternoon 11th June to the
Second Reading stage of this Bill. The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary
Education presented the Second Reading speech on behalf of the Minister. He was
followed by Hon Misihairabwi-Mushonga, the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee
on Primary and Secondary Education, who presented the committee’s impressively
detailed report [link] on the public hearings held in April. Section 4 of the report lists
16 specific recommendations for amendments to the Bill including:
barring political parties from engaging in political activities in school
premises during school time;
greater detail on measures to be followed to achieve the realisation of free
basic education for all by 2030;
inclusion of a provision to compel parents to send their children to school;
an approach to the school feeding programme that does not require parents
who cannot afford it to contribute to the costs;
a clear and categorical statement outlawing all forms of corporal
Noting that committee members differed greatly on the question of continued school
attendance by girls who fall pregnant, the report leaves it to the House to decide what
provision should be made on this issue. The report ends with the following
“The Committee fully supports the various submissions made by the members of
the pubic and stakeholders in the education sector. However, the Committee still
feels that the proposed amendments to the Education Bill are not adequate. Thus,
this Committee report is supported by a 'model’ Education Amendment Bill, which
the Committee feels is ideal and comprehensive to address the gaps in the Bill
currently before the House”. [This “model” Education Bill will be available on the
Veritas website early next week.]
After that, individual MPs started making their contributions to the debate, expressing
divergent views on the clauses on corporal punishment and school attendance of
pregnant girl scholars. Further contributions by MPs were made on Tuesday 18th
June and on Wednesday 19th June, when the House voted to waive Questions
Without Notice in order to make progress on the Bill. Finally, on Wednesday the
Minister wound up the debate with a speech [link] in which he commended the
Portfolio Committee’s report and said that he would accept most of its proposed
recommendations for amendments to the Bill. The committee’s suggestion for a
special Education Fund, however, would need further consultation within
Government and would have to be the subject of separate legislation. Also, the
Minister rejected requests from some MPs to allow corporal punishment, because it
would be unconstitutional to do so. The Bill was then given its Second Reading,
clearing the way for the Committee Stage and consideration of amendments to
individual clauses.

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