Despite numerous promises to revamp the country’s education sector and improve the welfare of teaching staff, government has proved a lack of commitment towards its pledge and continues to make unilateral decisions that have a negative bearing on the education sector.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) President, Obert Masaraure in an interview with the Crisis Report blasted government for making pronouncements on issues related to the education sector without input from key stakeholders.
On August 25, 2021 government announced new opening dates for schools in a move that caught most parents off guard. The move to reopen schools was part of resolutions of a Cabinet meeting.
“The announcement (to open schools) was backed by a claim that preparations for schools had been done extensively. The vague claim of preparations does not speak to teacher preparedness to teach, learner preparedness to learn, parents’ preparedness to fund education and schools’ preparedness for safety in face of COVID 19,” said Masaraure.
ARTUZ and government have been at loggerheads since 2019, with the teachers’ union demanding a living wage.
Masaraure bemoaned that the plight of rural teachers has not yet been addressed despite government’s strong will to open schools.
“ In 2020 the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Professor Paul Mavima pronounced that by January 2021, government would have produced a roadmap towards restoration of pre-October 2018 salaries for teachers. To date no roadmap has been shared,” said Masaraure.
He also accused government of giving teachers’ salaries a cosmetic uplift in light of the hyper inflationary environment.
“ Government has only resorted to adjusting salaries in line with inflation. The same value of low salaries has been maintained under the guise of increments. Teachers therefore remain severely incapacitated. Teachers can’t afford to pay tuition fees for their own children let alone travel back to work,” said Masaraure.
Masaraure urged government to channel part of the funds from the much hyped budget surplus towards the education sector.