Staff Reporter – The Zimbabwe Daily

Harare, Zimbabwe – The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)’s chairperson, Dr. Takavafira Zhou is calling upon the government to review teachers’ salaries.

Teachers in the southern African country are currently earning an average salary of US$30 a month.

“A considerable number of teachers turned to agony, anguish and wailing after receiving their starvation wages last week. Our view as PTUZ is that there is no need to regret for being a teacher, and teachers must never mentally resign although they physically remain teachers in Zimbabwe. The situation where 99 percent of teachers have mentally resigned although they physically remain as teachers is not enviable for the profession.

Rather teachers across the country must get organised and force their leaders to collectively unite and seek for an explanation from government as it is within the purview of trade unionism to do so. There is also need for unity in our diversity in clamouring for the restoration of our October 2018 salaries pegged at US$550. The restoration of our purchasing power parity is a dispute of right that must unite teachers across the union and non-union divide. There is no need to try to politicise such a clear labour issue. As long as our politics is non partisan but focused on creating a credible education system in Zimbabwe there is nothing to fear except fear itself.

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However, we also note that deferment must have been followed by engagement between Ministry officials and union leaders over what should be done when and how? Sadly, we hear that government has already penciled ‘O’ and ‘A’  examinations for January 2021 without consulting those nearer to pupils, viz, teachers. Nothing is also planned in terms of establishing a robust Task Force comprising trade unions, health and education officials in order to carry a COVID-19 risk assessment and advice accordingly, when and how schools can open. The general assumption that intelligence resides in big offices at Head Office as if knowledge comes through osmosis by virtue of occupying a big office is not only puzzling but vogue and vacuous. The best way of introducing reforms in the education system is to engage teachers and proceed through consensus.

Command Education will never give best results. There is urgent need to motivate teachers so that they find dynamic ways of helping their students even during this COVID-19 lockdown, particularly through class and subject WhatsApp groups that also ordinarily include sending work to and from students through parents’ phones as well as feedback. Sadly, the Ministry engaged in radio and television lessons without serious engagement with unions with the consequent failure to smoothly take off as in essence more than 75 percent of students have no access to radio and television frequencies.

As PTUZ, we urge the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to mellow down to a more constructive approach of meaningful engagement with union leaders, logical disputation rather than seeking rubber stamping of weird programs by teachers.

Moreover, teachers brim with and exude best intentions to assist their students and must be taken seriously by officials, rather than to be taken as if they are of no account. Teaching is the mother of all professions, yet in Zimbabwe teachers have fallen from grace to grass with monotonous regularity. Guarantee our health, safety and welfare and allow us our professional space to assist students during lockdown and after. Our intellect and acumen are at the disposal of government in order to ensure sustainable development of the nation but our best can never be realised when our health, safety and welfare are not a government priority.

Invest in our safety, health, welfare and quality public education and see how we will become a vital cog of a skills revolution and national development. We are everything, yet we now count for nothing. We manage the world’s best asset, viz, students, and must be respected together with the asset we manage in order to foster development,” said Dr. Zhou.