The 30 day break from school is coming to an end but there appear to be no remedy proffered to ameliorate the crisis and confusion that characterized the first term of the year 2017. This failure is both at the broad national level and within the education sector. Its most striking features are dubious policy processes, incompetent and clueless leadership, flagrant disregard of the law, cash crisis and stinking public sector corruption. ARTUZ takes a closer look at some of these issues and gives necessary recommendations at each stage.
Teachers are still to access their salaries from the banks and have joined other citizens sleeping on street pavements hoping to strike luck and get their hard earned cash. Amalgamated Rural Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, (ARTUZ), conducted a survey in Zimbabwe's capital Harare. Over 60% of the people in bank queues were teachers from rural schools who are at pains to access their cash.
The interviewed teachers were panicking on how they would make it back to work when schools open on 9 May. One teacher explained that if he were to go back without accessing his full salary he would spend US$30.00 to travel back and forth to the capital to try to get the cash. Parents have not been spared. Although fees are being paid using bank transfers and plastic money, cash for pocket money and securing other provisions like winter wear from cheap, down town small scale traders remains a nightmare. This is more so for those in rural areas where the use of electronic and plastic money is rare and or nonexistent.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe introduced bond notes in the vain hope and a fraudulent promise to solve the cash crisis. Unfortunately the move triggered panic and cash has disappeared. The RBZ further promised that Civil Servants can make a US$300.00 withdrawal of their salaries at once.
This was never implemented and banks continue to confess ignorance of the existence of such a provision and this betrays the liar that is the RBZ Governor, John 'Iscariot' Mangudya.
In a closed door meeting with a manager of one of the commercial banks the manager blamed the RBZ Governor for authoring the current crisis by introducing 'bad money' (bond notes) which effectively chased out the 'good money' (United States Dollars). The manager went further and rejected our plea to have teachers access the promised US$ 300.00, saying Mangudya must fix his own mess without lying to ordinary people.
ARTUZ calls upon the monetary authorities to institute a lasting solution to the cash crisis. We further implore the Public Service Commission to understand and pardon teachers who will fail to come to work on time as they battle to access their salaries from the banks.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and its head, Minister Lazarus Dokora, remain adamant that his unpopular curriculum must be implemented in spite of all evidence on the ground showing that it is a catastrophic failure and a waste of resources. Teachers remain unprepared for implementation and infrastructure in rural schools is still not amenable with the changes. Our Social economic realities are demanding a better learning blue print which the current framework dismally fails to do.
The confusion which rocked the first learning term is set to continue and more valuable learning time and precious resources will go down the drain as a result an obdurate minister whose very own kids study in exotic centres in South Africa, Singapore and China. ARTUZ once again reiterate its call on the need to suspend the Dokora curriculum (and its Minister) and open wide stakeholder consultations to produce a 'curriculum that works.' Such a curriculum must be driven by the socio-economic realities of our country and our developmental needs.
Teacher Professional Council (TPC)
The establishment of a TPC to regulate the teaching profession has once again, like so many good initiatives, been hijacked by overzealous and dubious elements who are determined to create a body which does not represent the interests of the teachers. At the forefront of these hijack pirates is Lazarus Dokora working hand in glove with some elements who masquerade as representing teachers. With the clumsiness of a bull in a China shop, Dokora and his crew have all but adulterated the process of establishing a legitimate TPC.
Firstly they have made the process exclusive and secretive, shutting out critical and founding voices like ARTUZ from the entire process. Secondly, they conducted a number of sham meetings disguised as consultations, needless to say that even ordinary teachers saw through this veil of chicanery and falsehoods and many whom ARTUZ spoke to have dismissed the whole process as a façade. The only real outcome of the charade show that Dokora and his hijack pirates staged was hefty payouts of allowances from the donor funds that are being abused in the process.
On the TPC ARTUZ recommends the following key action points:
Opening up of the space to make it inclusive, broad-based and teacher driven. There must be nothing for teachers without teachers!
An immediate stop to the dubious charade which is currently going on for consultations on the TPC and to replace it with proper consultations spearheaded by representatives of teachers and other regional and international partners who have had experience in setting up a TPC.
To hold a referendum on the proposed TPC structure that would be produced from consultations to determine whether teachers agree to it or not.
Political violence and politicisation of schools
As Zimbabwe heads towards 2018, political violence and politicization of learning centres is once again rearing its ugly head. ARTUZ continues to record a number of cases where school premises and grounds are being used for political meetings especially by ZANU PF top politicians and activists. School property such as buses and desks continue to be used at political rallies and this property is often destroyed and the burden for repairs fall on the shoulders of poor parents who benefit nothing from these political jamborees.
More worrying however is the abuse of schools children at these political processes. School pupils are being forced to attend these rallies (Grace Mugabe's Buhera meet the people rally being a case in point) and are subjected to hate speech, vulgar, tribalism and inflammatory statements which are not good for their psychological development. The involvement of pupils and school property is in total disregard of section 81(h) of the Constitution which is very clear on protecting children from political involvement and is evidence of the lack of rule of law which ARTUZ has consistently said in its reports and resolutions.
ARTUZ recommends as follows:
An immediate end to use of school properties and abuse of teachers and pupils at political rallies. ARTUZ will engage further on possible legal recourse in this respect.
Upholding of the teachers and learners' academic freedoms and an end to use of school premises for political activities.
Respect of the constitution and an end to violence against teachers.
Betterment of rural education and welfare of teachers
ARTUZ starts the new term by calling on government and its relevant organs to consider the two policy alternatives which ARTUZ has put on the table for the betterment of rural education as well as the welfare of teachers who work in rural areas. ARTUZ calls for the establishment of an Education Equalisation Fund, which will be funded from resources already going towards BEAM, Zimdef and by special grants from our minerals. This fund will be used to develop infrastructure in rural schools and to fund free basic education for all.
ARTUZ further calls for a 100% to salary rural retention and attraction allowance so as to attract and retain the best teachers in rural schools. This allowance will replace the current $13.00 insult which the government gives to teachers as compensation for the hardships for teaching in remote and underdeveloped rural areas 37 years after independence. Needless to say when Dokora and his crew visit these areas they reward each other thousands of dollars in a so called 'bush allowance.'
ARTUZ is aware that the current authorities presiding over education and general affairs of the state are gluttonous and lazy. The union is further aware that they are clueless and indifferent as they are incompetent to address the challenges we face as a country and more so in the education sector. In light of this reality, we promise our members and parents that in our engagement with these authorities' we will from time to time and whenever necessary, use our rights to peaceful protest and petition. In short we will continue to run in the streets in defense of our education and profession from those whose only motive in government has been to smash and grab.
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