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Teachers blast Ministry of Education over ‘careless’ statement

By Nyasha Chuma

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Tumisang Thabela has come under fire for advising financially incapacitated teachers to borrow money to travel to their workplaces.

Teachers described the utterances as “careless and inconsiderate” to their plight saying it pointed to a government far removed from addressing the financial struggles of lowly paid educators.

Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Thabela noted “from our daily check of attendance from the previous week, I haven’t looked at todays because it usually comes around this time, the numbers of teachers coming as compared to what we expected was over 70% there is one or two provinces where it is still depressed but generally we are over 70% so those who are supposed not to have enough money or whatever we are hoping by the end of this week they would have borrowed enough money to go back to work.”

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union (ARTUZ) Secretary General Robson Chere said educators cannot continue to subsidise their services to an employer “insults our profession and the right to a living wage.”

“That’s an insult to the teachers from the government,” Chere told Zim Morning Post.

“It’s shocking and we are disturbed to learn that our Government has gone further to condemn of Education Sector to the level of belittling teachers who are ordering all their sacrifice to save the already crumbling education Sector and for the record straight we as teachers we can’t subsidise our services to the Employer who is insulting our profession and the right to a living wage as workers,” he added.

Government ordered schools to reopen last week and non exam classes resumed lessons on September 6.

Takavafira Zhou, President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said to assume that teachers can borrow money in order to go to their respective stations whilst their own children remain confined at home is oxymoronic.

“Contrary to Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education’s facade of lies to the effect that schools are ready to open, the five days of school opening for exam classes has shown beyond any reasonable doubt all signs of ill-preparedness in form of no running water in schools, no Covid abatement equipment in schools, no recruitment of many teachers to guarantee appropriate teacher : pupil ration, no new infrastructural development to guarantee social distance,” he said.

“As we warned, there are two schools in Manicaland where students tested positive to Covid-19, the latest being Kriste Mambo High, where 9 students tested positive out of 18 students tested on day 5 after opening. There are several reports of students exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms in schools. As such, we reiterate that the conglomeration of more than 140000 teachers, more than 5 million pupils and over 80 000 ancillary staff in schools without any testing is a time bomb that can explode with disastrous consequences.”

PTUZ urged government to come up with a rescue package to enable incapacitated teachers to travel to their respective stations.

“There is, therefore, a need to guarantee the welfare of teachers, let alone the health and safety of teachers and pupils,” he said.