World Teachers Day:Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe joins millions of teachers globally in celebrating World Teacher’s Day on 05 October under the theme “Teachers at the heart of Education Recovery’’.

World Teachers Day was initiated by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, {UNESCO} to commend and celebrate teachers for the contribution they make to the development of society. The teaching profession is a critical form of public service in which expert knowledge and specialized skills are applied to improve the quality of human capital for national development.

ARTUZ has shown its commitment to the access and provision of quality education by making several interventions and these include Training its members on the various tools that they could use to effect remote learning during the lockdown period when contact learning was not feasible.

The union went further and strongly lobbied government to structurally support remote learning through methods such the USSD mode of learning that had proven to be effective in other jurisdictions.

The various methods of remote learning that the union that the union advocated for opened up new possibilities of in cooperating new technologies to the manner in which teachers execute their duties.

Raising awareness against early child marriages and fighting stigma that is associated with the victims of early childhood marriage. The Covid-19 pandemic widened inequalities between the different social classes of our society. Thus, the girl-child from poor working-class background was one of the worst affected groups and as a result a significant number ended up engaging in early childhood marriages.

The union in collaboration with organizations that have interests in women’s rights and justice strongly lobbied government, parliament, and other responsible statutory bodies for stronger legislation that protected the girl-child from ECM and to ensure that those that would have fallen victim to such must be back at school at the expense of the state and also be protected against systematic discrimination.

The union noted the disruption to learning that took place due to Covid-19 and observed that this was not the first time this happened, during the Cyclone Idai disaster learning was heavily disrupted and affected in the Manicaland areas that had been affected. All this points to a less coordinated government plan for the provision of education during times of disaster.

As such the union through serious consultations with various stakeholders developed an Education in Emergencies Charter which we hope alongside other expert opinions the government will adopt and apply in future unfortunate occurrences such as the one we are currently going through the provision of education should not stop because of events that could have been mitigated on.

As a union we are worried that the government has consistently proven that it’s not worried about the quality of education in the country but instead expropriates its role to teachers who inadequately equipped. There is a growing tendency by the government of trying to make teachers to account for the poor state of education in Zimbabwe. Teachers in Zimbabwe are exposed to more work load due to the inadequacy of preparation by the government in re- opening schools during this pandemic period, changes to the curriculum and teacher/learner ratio which is high.

It’s sad to note that government continues to ignore teacher’s grievances. Teacher’s salaries have been eroded to less than 50% of the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) due to inflation and the rise in cost of living and some of
the demands by teachers are basic welfare issues like housing which has proven to be a great challenge especially for those stationed in rural areas who stay in sub-human conditions and are often exposed to risk due to the conditions they will be staying under.

These issues of welfare need to be urgently addressed and the union challenges the government to be innovative and receptive of other stakeholders’ ideas in resolving the current crisis. Teachers can only serve and beat the heart of recovery of education recovery if issues of their material concerns addressed and they are adequately motivated.

The government must adhere to Standard Operating Procedures set by the World Health Organization. It’s sad to note that the government had not adequately prepared for schools opening with regards to Covid-19 preventative measures. Schools are now hot-spots, and this has been confirmed by the Ministry of Health. This puts teachers at risk to exposure of the virus and unfortunately this affects the quality of the service they provide. Also importantly as are aspect of human life the government must address these concerns.

The Union also note with disgust attempts to impose mandatory vaccination on teachers. Vaccination is progressive but citizens should retain the right to choose. On Friday 8 October the Union will take to the streets resisting the unethical mandatory vaccination.

As ARTUZ we take this opportunity to salute and celebrate every teacher who has selflessly dedicated themselves to the line of duty despite the harsh conditions they are operating under, we strongly urge them never to retreat nor surrender in the face of sustained assault to their profession and DIGNITY. May we continuously observe Covid-19 set guidelines set by the WHO and protect ourselves and our colleagues.

Shinga Mushandi
Qina Umsebenzi
Towards Victory

Source: ARTUZ

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