Teachers have described as irrational, utterances by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Cain Mathema that government will hire unemployed trained teachers to administer lessons for examination sitting classes as the ongoing teacher-strike escalates.
The Minister recently said measures have been put in place to employ the bulk of qualified, but jobless, teachers.
Teachers are demanding salaries of US$520 per month or its equivalent in local currency for them to return to their work stations following the re-opening of schools last week.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) Chief Executive Officer, Sifiso Ndlovu described the Ministers’ utterances as a threat meant to intimidate teachers to return to work.
“Those are mere threats meant to coerce educators and at worst intimidate them into trooping back to schools even without financial support or meaningful review of salaries. It’s practically irrational to think about it let alone act on that position. It will be a waste of state resources,” said Ndlovu
He said the current situation will impact negatively on students who are sitting for their examination as there are no teachers.
“The impact on student performance in public examinations will be bad as there are no teachers in schools.”
He added “Those in attendance are now being motivated by private resources from parents and guardians who are forking out between USD5 and USD20 per child to pay to the teachers. This in the long term is unsustainable.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said the minister’s remarks mislead the nation.
“The Minister of Primary and secondary education is sponsoring neglect in public education. His utterances mislead the pace holders and the nation at large. There is no learning taking place in our public schools. We understand that they don’t care because their kids won’t be in those schools, those reckless statements will only disadvantage the poor majority who are in public schools.
“We understand business is normal in elite private schools but we cannot neglect the majority of our pupils because the officeholders do not care about them. We are going to escalate the fight, we going to force this government to realize the need for inclusive access to education.” Masaraure said.
He urged parents and learners to take the fight to their government to defend the right to education as defined in section 75 of the Constitution.
Government and public workers wage negotiations have been dragging as there no signs of compromise from both sides and the utterances by the Education Minister could worsen matters on the negotiation table, with teachers seemingly unmoved by the threats.