Teachers deserve better 

Source: Teachers deserve better – NewsDay Zimbabwe

THE arrest of at least 15 teachers for protesting poor salaries in Harare on Wednesday has once again cast the spotlight on the failure by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to effectively address the perennial problem of poor working conditions for its workers.

The teachers, who are members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, were picked up while picketing in the city centre demanding to be paid United States dollar salaries.

This sorry episode comes as Zimbabwean teachers working in neighbouring South Africa this week applied for the South African Educators Council certificate as they desperately seek to extend their stay in the neighbouring country where their services are better appreciated and remunerated.

According to South Africa’s Department of Higher Education and Training, Zimbabwean teachers constitute the largest group of migrant teachers in South Africa. This is a damning indictment on Mnangagwa’s administration, who despite claims of being a new dispensation, has maintained the same substandard working conditions for teachers it inherited from the late former President Robert Mugabe’s regime.

It is sad that the teaching profession in Zimbabwe has, despite its pivotal role in shaping the nation’s human resource’s knowledge base, been stripped of its noble profession tag by government’s failure to provide decent working conditions.

Teaching is one of the most important professions in the world, and educator’s salaries should reflect that, unfortunately they do not. Why should professional athletes, who throw around a ball make millions, while teachers that gave them the tools to get there make 10 times less than them? Teaching is a specialised job that requires competencies at the highest level.

As long as our leaders, who after all went through the teacher’s hands to be where they are today, seem not to appreciate that this is a noble profession, teachers will forever languish in poverty and the stand-off between the government and educators will never come to an end.

The more we continue treating them as non-essential service providers, the more we lose the country’s best minds through brain drain as qualified personnel migrate for better-paying jobs.

This is made worse by the failure of government to address salary discrepancies between teachers and other State workers, resulting in teachers being the poorest cousins in the public service family.

We wonder, why government is not keen to conduct a regrading exercise for teachers in line with their professional qualifications so that they are remunerated accordingly?