Second Term Schools Opening Referendum

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ notes with disgust that no learning is taking place in the majority of our public schools. On the other hand, government continues to sing the “all is well” message in a desperate attempt to mask the crisis in the education sector. The Union is worried that if this façade is allowed to continue the future of a whole generation and the nation at large may be ruined.

It is against this worrying background that ARTUZ is proposing a radical intervention from the working class to save the education from collapse. Government will have adequate time to resolve incapacitation crisis from 4 June, when schools close to 28 June when schools are expected to open for second term. If government fails to use this window, it is the Union’s measured view that public schools should not be opened for the second term until the government has resolved the ensuing labour dispute with the teachers. The current situation where teachers are either completely staying away from schools or just sitting in at work should be stopped. Government should be forced to pay teachers pre-October 2018 salaries to restore normalcy in our schools.

We note attempts by parents to try to illegally incentivise teachers. Such piecemeal interventions are unsustainable and discriminatory. Parents have no mandate to pay teacher salaries and the majority will not afford to foot the wage bill for teachers in the long run. Learners from marginalised communities are completely left out as they cannot afford to pay teacher allowances.

ARTUZ has been mobilising voices for education, under the #SaveOurEducationZw campaign. Millions of voices have implored government to pay teachers a living wage to #SaveOurEducationZw. The government has however remained obdurate and continues to mislead the nation that learning is taking place. This lie is dangerous and examinations are fast approaching thus jeopardising the future of millions of learners.

Blocking the opening of schools for second term will force the government to dialogue with teachers and genuinely resolve the incapacitation crisis. Schools will then be opened for efficient teaching and learning. Motivated teachers will definitely work around the clock to bridge the learning gaps created by both the COVID19 pandemic disruptions and the incapacitation crisis.

Our proposal should however be put to the test of public opinion. It is against this background that ARTUZ is rolling out a vote on whether to proceed with the fake opening of schools or to block it and push for a permanent solution to the education crisis. The Union will target teachers stationed in at least 100 schools per province as a sample for the referendum. A total of at least 1000 schools will participate in the referendum. The union will also target other citizens by taking the ballot to the streets. A total of at least 5 million voters will be targeted to decide. An online vote will also be opened to gather the voices of all citizens who have access to online resources.

Teachers position on second term opening, will be informed by the outcome of the referendum. If people agree to keep schools closed, teachers wont report for duty. Under such circumstances parents will be expected to keep their children at home as we collectively push for a solution to the education crisis.

This is a historic moment for citizens to decide the future of education. We have allowed government to lead us on a destructive path for too long. It is time we the people take over and redirect the management of education in our great nation.

The Union will finalise logistics and make announcements on dates and venues for voting. We remain committed to the #SaveOurEducationZw assignment

Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)

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