World Teachers Day: Teachers at the heart of education recovery

12 October 2021


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. We have produced a remote learning toolkit which I proudly present to you today. We give permission to the government to use the training toolkit to enhance the delivery of remote learning instructions.


  • Raising awareness against early child marriages, teenage pregnancy and fighting stigma that is associated with the victims of early childhood marriage and teen pregnancy . 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 group and as a result a significant number ended up engaging in early childhood marriages. The union in collaboration with many 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. Now that our education act allows pregnant girls in school, the government should position teachers as Champions for Girl Child Education. We are training some at ARTUZ but government intervention will have a big impact. Teachers should make the school safe for the girl child, provide counseling and track those who are trapped in illegal child marriages among other interventions.


  • 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. Hon Minister we have a copy of the education in emergencies charter which we pray you will read and adopt some of our recommendations. Of particular importance is the introduction of an education centered disaster management system to support the work of the Civil Protection Unit but mainstreaming shielding of education system from fatal shocks.


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 are 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 workload due to the inadequacy of preparation by the government in re-opening schools during this pandemic period, changes to the curriculum, particularly the unplanned introduction of CALA 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 be at the heart of recovery of education recovery if issues of their material concerns addressed and they are adequately motivated.


The wage theft of October 2018 has to be reversed. The value of our pre October 2018 salaries must be restored. Today teachers earn 21% of fair wage and it is only fair for them to work 21% of normal working hours, which is one day per week.


Our demand for USD denominated salaries is justified and legitimate. S. I 185 of 2020 mandates everyone selling goods and services to quote their prices in both USD and the local currency. It is illegal for us to only quote in local currency.


The economy has also dollarised all goods and services are being sold in USD. It is only fair to have teachers paid in the same so that they participate in the economy. We have a negotiated figure of USD 520. Let's revert to it and restore normalcy in sector.


The labour Justice deficiencies are exacerbated by the failure to align our labour laws to the Constitution of Zimbabwe.


Teachers will only realize labour Justice if we laws are aligned, administration conduct is reformed and some toxic cultural practices are flushed from the system.


ARTUZ has been producing quarterly labour Justice index reports and today we hand over the inaugural one which unpacks critical areas of reform.


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 hotspots 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 a respect of human life the government must address these concerns. We have been monitoring adherence to COVID-19 S. O. Ps in schools our September report exposed a regrettable regression on adherence. We should capacitate our schools to adhere as a way to combat the spread.


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 took to the streets resisting the unethical mandatory vaccination. We petitioned government and we have a petition for you Hon Minister, we pray you will read and transmit our plea to your colleagues in cabinet.


As the nation awaits the 2022 budget we register our concern with the low vote for education in previous budgets and the underspenting of allocated amount. In 2021, the 55, 221 billion allocated to education was just 13% of total budget.


This is way below the Dakar declaration threshold of 20%. Of the 55.221 billion only 19 bn was disbursed up to June 2021, just 36% halfway through the year. The Union is worried that not all of the 55.221 will be disbursed by year end negatively impacting on service delivery in the sector. Hon Minister help us demand our 20% for education and full disbursement of our vote.


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 WHO and protect ourselves and our colleagues.


Shinga Mushandi


Qina Umsebenzi


Towards Victory


ARTUZ INFORMATION DESK


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