Source: Lazarus Dokora is right | The Herald May 18, 2016
A look at the “crimes” that the minister has been accused of will reveal a shocking picture: not only are the said grievances driven by self centred, greedy teachers, they also border on the superfluous, inane and needless scaremongering.
It has been long since the writer spoke to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Lazarus Dokora.
It is to be hoped that he is well.
Lazarus Dokora, like his predecessor Aeneas Chigwedere, is a much vilified man, and it has been the story for much of his tenure as basic education minister.
The newspapers do not like him and much less teachers who should find in him their commander.
A number of parents have come out worried about him, a justifiable concern for everyone with children of school-going age and whose future depends on who superintends the education ministry and the policies he pursues.
Sometimes you wonder whether the minister sleeps well at night given the hostility that is directed at him daily.
It may as well be difficult for his wife and children.
Even his mother, if he still is blessed with her — who can be as any sensitive to hostility directed to her son. Women do that even for a grown man or woman; and that is the beauty and essence of motherhood.
But then, in any position of influence and government you have to have a thick skin — which we reckon the minister has.
Perhaps thicker than many can imagine, which is why he looks unfazed.
We are of the opinion, too, that he should not be overly worried or downcast.
He is right.
A look at the “crimes” that the minister has been accused of will reveal a shocking picture: not only are the said grievances driven by self-centred, greedy teachers, they also border on the superfluous, inane and needless scaremongering.
The first and critical thing to note is that Dokora has not fundamentally changed the education sector in Zimbabwe, in a negative way.
He has not been that barbarian who came to destroy the education sector, destroying schools, suspending curricula and jailed teachers — and imposed Islam (not to say it is a bad thing).
On the contrary, he has continued on the solid base of the system that has been built over the years and we have not seen any disruption of this Africa-topping system.
The curriculum review that he has undertaken will only cement the continuum of Zimbabwe’s fine education system.
Those are the fundamentals.
Anyone who has anything substantial to fault the minister would please educate us!
Now, Dokora has been accused of many things and is certainly not the darling of teachers across the country.
This largely stems from the fact that he has attempted to stop teachers from getting the so-called incentives and conduct extra lessons.
Teachers in Zimbabwe today, are a greedy lot who somehow think that they are entitled to milking parents for their own good and the good of their families.
The so-called incentives were introduced as a way to cushion teachers and keep them in class.
That was when the economy was at its worst and somehow it was divined that for the sake of the country’s children, parents would sacrifice a little more.
Fair and fine.
The incentives were not given to any other sector, even those on the same scale of pay as teachers.
The trend has continued and somehow teachers believe that it is their right to be milking parents.
Times are hard for everyone.
Just how somebody who takes home say $300 from the civil service expects another from the same employer to part with more to feed him for doing his work beats reason.
In fact, it is unpatriotic and treacherous.
Now the same teacher who wants incentives has devised another ploy called extra lessons.
These extra lessons are supposed to be mostly for remedial purposes — and free for that matter.
However, teachers choose not to do their work properly for their employer and leave the best for their money-making schemes.
Children who do not pay these extra classes are failed or do not get enough knowledge as teachers criminally negate their duties in the formal class and even pursue syllabi.
It is as criminal as it can get.
So, the teacher with 45 pupils wants $10 per week per child.
This means that on top of the $300 he gets from Government, he has a cool $1 800 per month.
And if incentives are levied for the same children at a minimum rate of $10 per term then that’s another $450 making the lucky teacher a fortune of $2 550.
Now, who is getting that kind of money these days?
If the treacherous teachers feel Dokora is preventing them from making these obscene amounts they should just go to hell.
Or at best found their own private colleges which will be commercially driven.
It is now a sad situation that children no longer enjoy holidays since greedy teachers impose extra lessons where they criminally pursue syllabi that they are mandated to teach within the termly frameworks.
Not only are parents — who are being robbed by these greedy teachers and being made to believe that a regular school term is not enough — victims.
Children are also losers as they lose time to be socially moulded into fuller and multi-dimensional human beings.
What we have, and what some foolishly celebrate as academic successes are generally socially deficient academic automatons.
Greedy teachers are also unhappy about the minister’s misgivings over entrance tests.
Money is behind it: they make a killing out of such exercises as they invite hundreds of place seekers and charge as much as $100 per child. In the end, only a handful is admitted.
Never mind the excuses about the best pupils bla bla bla.
The other things that Dokora stands accused of are generally superfluous, perhaps both for him and those who seek to nail him over them.
These include things such as mandatory uniforms for all teachers, which we are lately hearing about.
As for the national pledge, which is topical these days, a lot of ink has already been expended by this same pen in support of the initiative.
Suffice to say, the national pledge should not be reversed and should be a permanent feature of Zimbabwe’s exemplary school system.
It will also be useful and nationally beneficial if some teachers and parents who are opposing the national pledge, largely because they do not like the ruling party and support the foreign sponsored opposition, be reminded that they should not let their treachery rub off onto their children.
Lastly, an article on the Cuban education system — where Dokora went and taught at one point — is very instructive on the trajectory of Zimbabwe’s education under Minister Dokora.
We are told that Cuba’s education system is incredibly successful and has sound philosophical underpinnings.
According to the journal, the philosophical structure underpinning this system is such that, “education can be more effective, meaningful and successful if it’s informed, accompanied and guided by an appropriate values or belief system . . . that transcend time, space, cultural and social systems.”
These include, the pursuit of happiness; human freedom, dignity and respect; honesty and truthfulness; peace, justice and fairness; human equality; and the concrete enactment of compassion and solidarity.
You can smell a Dokora in this.
And dare say, he is not a bad guy for the job.