Dr Takavafira M. Zhou (PTUZ President) Writes
The message from President Mnangagwa was clear and loud, that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must prepare to open schools in line with WHO regulations.
But before he had even finished delivery of his speech on the relaxation of covid 19 lockdown regulations, the Ministry of Education propagandist, Taungana Ndoro, had even claimed schools were ready to open and were waiting for cabinet greenlight.
In blitzkrieg fashion Cabinet also came up with warped timelines for opening of schools, viz 15 March for exam classes and 22 March for other classes.
Indeed the timelines would have been sound, if government was pre-occupied with urgent resolution of the welfare of teachers and prioritisation of health and safety of teachers and pupils.
But knowing the gvt as we do, the restoration of purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries before 15 March, and prioritisation of their health and safety, is next to impossible.
Such arrogance of Ministry officials and cabinet ministers is out of this world.
As teachers who are nearer the schools and classrooms we want to tell the President of the country, E.D. Mnangagwa that on the current starvation wages ranging between $14000 and $19000, teachers will not be able to report for work on 15 March 2021 as they are grossly incapacitated.
It is unfortunate Hon President that Ministry of Education officials misinformed your cabinet ministers into believing all is well in schools when everything is not well.
We remain puzzled by the penchant of lies peddled, and wish you would summon a meeting with teacher unions, school heads and parents to get a better appraisal of the state of our schools and starving teachers.
There is no need for the state to be inconsiderate by giving teachers an impossible mission of opening schools on 15 March.
You have always expressed that you are a listening President, please hear teachers’ reasonable submissions.
To the Ministry of Primary Education officials we are baffled by your lies and want to remind you that you have fast degenerated into human epidemics and have become a liability to the nation through your cold and calculated educational vandalism and genocide.
Lies have short legs, and soon we shall see.
To parents we want to highlight that teachers are parents too with children that are still in schools.
It is unfortunate that government always want to portray us as mercenaries not committed to work when in essence we are committed but incapacitated.
The fees that are demanded in schools where we teach are beyond our reach as parents. It is demeaning to us to offer services to other people’s children that our own children cannot access.
To our pupils we want to reiterate our commitment to effectively teach you together with our own children, but that commitment is undermined by our poverty and misery.
To all teachers there comes a time in a legitimate struggle when it is better to die on our feet than to die on our knees.
Let our incapacitation unite us across the union divide. The task of opening schools on 15 March 2021 is mission impossible, unless a miracle happens.
The Ministry does not value us and the government does not value our labour. The promises given in November 2020 to restore teachers’ salaries to US$520- US$550 or equivalence by 31 July 2021, have not been fulfilled.
We, therefore, have to unite in our diversity over the issue our salaries, health and safety or else perish as fools.
Our reasoned opinion as teachers is that social dialogue produces industrial harmony and productivity.
We therefore wonder why the Ministry of Education, let alone PSC are not engaging teacher unions.
We also wonder the efficacy of opening schools on 15 March when it is an open secret that teachers are incapacitated, let alone when it is obvious we would have an Easter holiday in early April.
Wouldn’t, it have been better to open after Easter and capacitation of teachers? Our humble submission is that we need to open schools to facilitate meaningful learning and teaching and not to fix teachers and pupils through industrial disharmony.
Let those in big offices note that, they must not plan to fail or fix teachers but to enhance quality public education and an educational skills revolution in line with Agenda 2030.
Having offered this professional advice even at this 11th hour, we expect those with eyes to see and those with ears to hear. Such professional advice can only be ignored at the peril of the educational system in Zimbabwe.