Teachers call for government engagement towards schools resumption

By Trevor Makonyonga

Teachers Unions under the Federation of Zimbabwe Educators Union (FOZEU) have asked the government to urgently engage them in order to collectively map an acceptable road map for the successful opening of schools in 2021.

With schools indefinitely closed for the year, the teachers said that it is “imperative to collectively plan” for the possible reopening of schools.

In a statement, the teachers said, “It is an undeniable and unquestionable fact that education suffered a serious and deadly blow due to the Covid19 induced lockdown and subsequent closure of schools rendering learning impossible.  Prior to this the education sector was already under serious distress  due to a number of factors, such as lack of social dialogue, incapacitation of teachers and underfunding. It is therefore imperative to collectively plan for opening of schools as a matter of urgency.”

They added, “Several  corrective measures need to be rectified before schools can be safe zones for learning. The government should address the incapacitation of teachers which has eroded their livelihoods, security and dignity. The salaries that the teaching profession has been subjected to for the past two decades are pitiful and cannot improve the lives of teachers and general upkeep of their families.”

The collective grouping of teachers unions also maintained their demand for US$520 in salaries.

“FOZEU is unflinching in it’s demand for the restoration of teachers’ salaries to 520USD or the equivalent interbank rate. There also urgent need for government to address the salary discrepancies between civil servants and other gvt employees, where teachers have been relegated to the periphery of the salary cycle. A case in point is how junior soldiers are now earning 27 000 RTGS whereas teachers earn as little as 14 000 RTGS per month, which is an absurd and shocking scenario. Teachers are civil servants not civil slaves.” The teachers said.

The teachers laid down a strategy that and their recommendations which include prioritizing the vaccination of all will teachers.

“The physical opening of schools will require co operation between all stakeholders within the education ecosystem, viz, government, teachers, learners and parents. This co operation is necessary in order  to create a conducive and safe environment for learning and teaching to take place. Schools should develop a Covid 19 response plan and  compliant to government set standard Operation Procedure that should be informed by WHO safety regulation with regards to Covid19. The government should with urgency initiate a broad- based plan to monitor the progress being made in schools in providing safe learning environment. Classes and hostels must be decongested and all buildings fumigated.”