Amnesty International has recently said that Zimbabwe is in violation of international law due to the country’s failure to ensure that children have a right to education. Under Amnesty’s policy, education is a human right. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights has noted that education plays a vital role in the promotion of human rights and is the way for people to life themselves out of out of poverty. Under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Zimbabwe is obligated to “respect, protect, promote and fulfil the right to education.” Article 13 of the ICESCR mandates that Zimbabwe’s government ensure that primary education is compulsory and available to all, and guarantees that the right will be exercised without discrimination of any kind.
In 2005, Zimbabwe instituted a program of mass evictions throughout the country known as Operation Murambatsvina. The result of the program and evictions was that “thousands of children and young people lost their access to education because they were forced to move away from their schools, while increased poverty among those affected, as a result of destruction of sources of livelihoods during the forced evictions, led to long-term inability to afford education.”
Recently, in light of these blatant violations, Amnesty has recommended that Zimbabwe create a commission to conduct an independent study into the long term impact of Operation Murambatsvina on the right to education. Likewise, the commission is expected to adopt and implement a national developmental education strategy which ensures that as a priority, all children access free, compulsory primary education, ensure that the right of access to public educational institutions and programmes on a non-discriminatory basis.