Teachers said it was illogical for government to condemn teachers and innocent learners, to possible transmission of the Corona Virus (COVID 19) as local schools are not equipped to ensure safety.
In a Joint Communique by the United Front of Teachers’ Unions (PTUZ, TUZ, ZRTU, ZDTU, ARTUZ, ZINATU and ZINEU) – the unions said its membership in particular, and teachers in general, were not on strike but genuinely incapacitated.
Teachers expressed shock over the ‘arrogant and adamant approach of government’, to trivialize such grave concerns which have a bearing on the whole education sector, in the statement released on the eve of general opening of schools.
“To all the parents, the truth of the matter is that there are no teachers in schools. There hasn’t been any improvement on infrastructure to accommodate social distancing. It’s all trial and error which eventually endangers your children,” said the teachers.
United Front of Teachers Unions further stated that parents who send their kids to school endanger them as the sector is ill prepared to handle students and ensure physical distancing in light of the Covid 19 pandemic.
“Our piece of advice is that don’t send your children to schools where there are no teachers until the government addresses the situation. In actual fact, the parents should fight on the side of teachers for the simple reason that you can’t entrust future of your children upon disgruntled and frustrated teachers.
“Government must prioritize the health and safety of teachers in schools. Currently, there are no enough Covid 19 abatement equipment and clean running water in most schools. Honestly, we are sitting on a time bomb and some learners have tested positive to Covid-19.
“It baffles logic why our government has decided to condemn teachers and innocent learners in this way,” read part of the statement.
They castigated the move by the Public Service Commission and Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education requesting submission of names of incapacitated teachers who failed to report for duty due to incapacitation without engaging the teachers’ unions.
The teachers unions said they ‘officially notified’ authorities through stipulated channels as required by law about teachers’ incapacitation and fears, as acknowledged by various government officials, including the highest office on the land, President Emmerson Mnangagwa;
Government offered to pay teachers RTGS 15 500, 00 which was dismissed as ‘pathetic, insulting and a mockery to the impoverished teachers,’ as teachers said government itself reduced from USD 520-550 in October 2018 to around 5500 RTGS in October 2020 (roughly 67 USD using Government transfer rates).
“We want to warn whoever dares punish incapacitated teachers that he/ she must be prepared to run the whole distance.
“Government should stop making short cuts when dealing with the issues of teachers. We will not fold our hands while the PSC and MoPSE urinate upon the SI 1 of 2000, Public Service Act (Chapter 16:04) and Labour Act (Chapter 28:01) by trying to punish incapacitated teachers.
“PSC and MoPSE should stop threatening teachers or force them to report for duty because that will never capacitate teachers. In any case, reporting for duty is one issue and teaching the learners is another totally different issue. Hope the difference is understandable,’ read part of the statement.
“We are still very optimistic that H. E. President E.D. Mnangagwa will soon consider the petition we submitted to his good office on 22 October 2020.”
They appealed to the Public Service Commission to officially respond to the notification of incapacitation and negotiate with the teachers in ‘the spirit of working together in order to break the perilous impasse currently obtaining in the education sector.’
It also sounded an ominous warning to traitorous elements within its rank and file, that it was ready for legal battles with government until full resolution of their concerns.
“We don’t expect the equally eviscerated Heads, DSIs and PEDs to sacrifice the incapacitated teachers by submitting names for victimization. Free warning to those who will overzealously sacrifice incapacitated teachers is that the United Front of Teacher Unions will not tire on defending its members.
“We are ready for that legal battle and our guns are well oiled,” read part of the statement.
Locally, the Manicaland Provincial Education Director (PED), Edwards Shumba recently revealed that only a skeleton staff has been reporting to schools since they opene4d for examinations classes.
“We have a challenge where at schools there is only skeleton staff of around thirty percent so it’s very difficult. With this time and era of technology some headmasters can be even giving wrong figures, but we are actively monitoring schools,” he said.