Command Phased Schools Opening a Wrong Turn by Government

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ concluded research on the state of the education system ahead of schools opening. The “Education in Crisis Report” has been shared with government and partners, and distribution is ongoing. The findings paint a gloomy picture of the future of our education system. Government’s response is shocking. Instead of coming up with a plan to save our education they have decided to plunge the sector into more chaos by unilaterally declaring an ill-advised phased schools opening calendar.

ARTUZ strives for inclusive access to quality education and highly motivated teachers. That noble agenda can only be realised when government engages stakeholders and builds consensus on the way forward for education. Teachers are severely underpaid, they cannot afford to send their own children to the schools where they are expected to teach. Parents are hard hit by the economic crisis and learners are traumatised. These challenges can only be resolved through proper planning, not the random approach being exhibited by government.

Teachers are demanding USD 520 as a precondition for schools opening.

Below are some recommendations to government as captured in our report.

Recommendations to government:

  • Defer 2020 examinations to March 2021 to afford learners more learning time.
  • Prepare a grade transition plan from 2020 to 2021.
  • Engage all Teacher Unions in genuine dialogue to resolve the salary crisis.
  • Produce a funded education in emergencies response strategy to protect the right to education during emergencies.
  • Recruit more teachers to address teacher learner ratios to realise social distancing and effective learning post the crisis.
  • Support continuous development through awarding paid study leave to teachers.
  • Fund the provision of PPEs, sanitiser and clean water in all public schools.
  • Introduce an education equalisation fund as prescribed by the Nziramasanga report of 2000. The fund should receive funding from tax on our mineral wealth and other revenue flows. The fund will be dedicated towards infrastructure development in needy communities such as rural areas.
  • Meet the Dakar Declaration minimum for education funding.
  • Align labour laws to section 65 of Zimbabwe’s constitution.
  • Implement section 75 of the constitution on the funding of basic education.

State propaganda machinery is churning out hate messages to malign ARTUZ’s image. The leadership of the union is receiving threats from anonymous callers. These tactics will not resolve the crisis in the education sector. ARTUZ will not give up on its mandate to defend the right to education and labour justice. No schools will open on 28 September unless the salary crisis is resolved. USD 520 for teachers!

Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)