By Claudia Machida ARTUZ Spokesperson
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ celebrates this June 16 by paying tribute to all the young people who have decided to take an active role in the fight against the neo-liberal policies of the oppressive regime of Zanu PF.
One of the reasons for the 16 June 1976 students’ revolt was the introduction of Bantu education which required black African students to learn their subjects in Afrikaans. African students were being prohibited from training for certain professions and trades. This was to preserve whiteness and racial privileges of the Apartheid South Africa.
In a supposed democratic and free Africa, we still continue to witness the aspirations of children from poor and working-class backgrounds wilt as governments continue to do less in investing in the transformation of their lives and evidence to this is the limited post-secondary education and employment opportunities for the African youth.
Zimbabwe’s investment towards education for the past three years has consistently been a paltry 13% of total annual budget, way below the around 22% prescription from Dakar declaration and far below the Sub Saharan average of around 16%. Consequently, teachers are incapacitated because of underpayment, learners are dropping out because they cannot afford tuition fees, schools have limited teaching and learning materials and pass rates are consistently dropping. Child marriages are on the rise, the youth are taking to drugs and in short, the future of the youth is being systematically decimated.
The government shamelessly declared a 9.8 billion budgetary surplus for the first quarter of 2021, in the midst of extreme poverty and total collapse of social services. Those are the absurdities of neo liberalism
We also celebrate this day in the midst of an economic meltdown and unemployment and there is over 90 % unemployment in the country and the youth are the majority of those affected and this is a recipe for social and political instability. The government continues with is its Anti-people policies and has effected mass demolitions of urban structures that have served in housing the poor and also as their centers of commerce.
This is very regrettable as the poor are the ones mainly affected by government`s negligible attitudes towards addressing the housing backlog and public infrastructure including schools across the country.
Young people as they celebrate this Day of the African Child must do so asserting their right to education appreciating the struggles of yesteryear heroes taking inspiration and critically reflecting on the kind of education they aspire to get and envision an Africa they want.
Young people should also not be deterred by the viciousness of the regime as history has proven that the violence of dictatorial regimes only grow to its crescendo just before their collapse, they must remain inspired by Marxist-Leninist intellectual Joseph Stalin who said “The battlefield for revolutionaries is on the streets”.
The Union continues to work with all strategic and important allies in the realization of a pro-poor education such as Students and the youth and as result the union commits itself to action by-
• Mobilizing Five million voices for education. This campaign seeks to raise the consciousness and popular involvement in the saving of our education that is in dire state.
• Holding a referendum in gathering citizens voices on whether or not schools should continue to open as planned for the second term despite the lack of preparedness by government.
• Engage in creative and disruptive online protests as the government so determined in clamping down of the June 16 spirit closed the space for physical protests.
• Continue to engage with young people and students and re-imagine our education system and call for progressive curricula redesign.
• Mobilising citizens to register to vote and vote for quality education.
Let us revive the fighting spirit of the 1976 youth so that we can overcome the massive challenges facing our young people.
Long Live the youth of Africa.
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