PRIMARY and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora was recently taken to task by Norton church leaders who accused him of imposing an “anti-Christian religion” in the country’s education curriculum.
Churches from the town requested to meet the minister through local Member of Parliament (MP) Temba Mliswa.
Dokora is under fire from parents and some churches for introducing Islam in schools.
A church representative, Reverend Gibson Botomani, accused the minister of looking to “take away Christianity from Zimbabwe’s education system”.
“Parents have a right to choose the type of education to be given to their children and the church, as a body, has a constitutional right to be consulted,” Reverend Botomani told Dokora during last Friday’s meeting.
“The belief that a top down approach works in respect of the churches has adversely affected us.”
Responding, Dokora said the new curriculum does not discourage schools from carrying out Christianity based activities.
“My teachers in the country’s schools are not there to convert your children to any religion, and I want you all the priests who are here to understand that,” said the minister.
“That is not their duty because they were not trained to be Reverends. They provide, in a mult-ifaith approach and understanding, an appreciation of the multiple of faiths that exist in our country.
“They (teachers) are not even meant to show a preference (for any faith) which is a privilege and duty you and your families have.”
He continued: “That must be understood because the feeling is that Dokora is now converting our children into other religions, which is not the case. Even if I hear reports of teachers doing that, I will recommend for their dismissal.
“If it’s an Anglican school, prepare your own programs which suite your schools because it’s your school but that should not be imposed on pupils because we also have other children from other faiths who attend the same school
The minister confirmed the re-introduction of Islam in the curriculum at a public meeting in Harare last week, adding that the development was not new as Islam had always been part of education system since independence in 1980.
However, during his 93rd birthday interview with the state media President Robert Mugabe appeared to contradict the minister.
The veteran leader even said that he was wondering whether Dokora, who keeps long beard had converted to Islam. The minister however, insists that he remains a Catholic.