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First Things First-Teachers

By Shingirai Vambe

Zimbabwe- As the Government continue to postpone the opening of schools due to the pandemic, parents and citizens across the country are now pushing for schools to be opened citing continuous disadvantaging of leaners and their education.

Since 2020 schools have been opening and closing depending with the up and rise as a result of covid case in trying to contain the spread of the virus.

To date over 5000 people have died of covid in Zimbabwe and over 200 000 have contracted the virus.

Zimbabweans across the country are now pushing for the reopening of schools citing some delinquencies and derailing of learners from their co business and engaging in illicit drug abuse, early child marriages, pregnancies and socio-economic related drop- outs.

Though the Government had banned extra lesson activities majority of students managed to write their examination and some are still writing using resources they got from extra lessons because schools were closed.

Post on Sunday reached out to the Progressive teachers union of Zimbabwe(PTUZ) and the Amalgamated rural teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) who responded and said, “First things first”.

“We cannot reopen schools without addressing the grievances of teachers. They are now getting an equivalent of US dollars $90 against a monthly expenditure of about $450” Josiphate Gwezhira, PTUZ Secretary for research said.

“If citizens feel or know that teachers are that important, they should the also push the government to address the salary issue. Besides, after the promulgation of the Education Amendment bill of 2019 banning corporal punishment, teachers equally can’t discipline these children of their delinquent behavior” added Gwezhira.

ARTUZ leader, Obert Masaraure told this publication that 2022 is a year for the revival of the classroom for the ARTUZ and have clearly defined what has to be done for the classroom to be revived.

“A teacher is earning ZWL $18 000 and the poverty datum line is now over ZWL $73 000. Poverty levels have risen, leaners are dropping out in mass because parents can no longer afford to pay fees or buy learning materials, cognizant of section 75 of the constitution the government should fully fund basic education” Masaraure said.

“We agree with citizen schools should be opened and they should be opened now to fulfil the leaners constitutional mandate, that is the right to education but government should also play its part in addressing the welfare of its employees” added Masaraure.

Recently the fight inequality Alliance –Zimbabwe made a press statement in Harare where they highlighted issues to do with tax injustice. Samuel Wadzai, director of the vendors Initiative for Social Economic Transformation said the Government should with immediate effect address the plight raised by teachers.

“The Government need to priorities education, the poor are the one who are being disadvantaged while those who are plundering the country’s resources, perpetuating corruption and in most cases not paying tax take their children to expensive schools and pay teachers to train them at home” said Wadzai.

“The only affected people here are the poor, the rich send their children to private schools even abroad where they can get their education, government should address legitimate issues raised by teachers and it should make sure that classrooms are also safe against covid before children go there” added wadzai.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson, Taungana Ndoro told Post On Sunday that in year 2020 alone, 187 Primary school children dropped out of school and 4 583 from Secondary dropped out, due to pregnancies.

He said the ministry is still collating data for the 2021.

The Global Compaign for Education in its solidarity message in commemoration of the International day of Education said, There is need to remember the ultimate purpose of education as a fundamental human right.

“In recent decades, the world has seen significant progress in schooling processes, especially at the primary and secondary education levels. However, these achievements have not been universalised. Many regions and countries continue to suffer the brunt of inequality and inequity in school access, which has greatly been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and climate change” Philan Ndebele said.

He further highlighted that, the advances in schooling have not been followed by improved education quality or efficiency so that educational content meets the aims set by the international human rights law. On the contrary, we observe a severe deterioration of learning processes: there are more children in the classroom, but they do not necessarily learn well or what they should. The curricular and didactic weakening has many causes, for which it is inadmissible that teachers be pointed out as those responsible for the learning crisis.