Half of teachers in Byo bunking classes

Fifty percent of teachers in Bulawayo are reportedly reporting for duty with the other half dodging work citing incapacitation, a provincial education official has said.

In what is likely to anger parents and government officials as well, out of the 50 percent who go to school, some of the teachers do not conduct any lessons but prefer to watch learners play around schoolyards.

Presenting a report during Bulawayo provincial taskforce committee on Covid-19 meeting Tuesday, Deputy Education Director Thabani Sibanda said most of the teachers had informed the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that they were incapacitated and unable to go to work.

“As of Friday (April 15, 2021), we sampled 75 schools for teachers and learners attendance. The provincial teachers’ attendance as of Friday was 50 percent while learners attendance was 68 percent. The provincial teachers’ attendance drastically dropped due to incapacitation notices forwarded to the schools, to the district and the province,” said Sibanda who was responding to Local Government and Public Works, Minister July Moyo, who demanded statistics on the attendance of both teachers and learners in Bulawayo.

The minister disclosed that the government had received worrying information that school attendance for learners in Bulawayo was below 90 percent and wanted more details from local education officials.

After the education official’s presentation, the minister was not pleased with him as in his initial presentation had said all was well regarding education.

“When you presented you said there no problems when in fact our children are not learning, that is not fair,” Moyo said, describing the teachers’ absence from work as diabolic. 

“These guys are using nice words to say they are on strike. Your children in this city have not been going to school. The teachers have been earning, now everybody knows the dire situation we are in economically. The  children are now back in school and the teachers announce incapacitation that means nobody is going to school essentially.”

Moyo cited this as one of the reasons why the pass rates were ‘very bad,’  saying it cannot be attributed to Covid-19 alone.

“Now there’s an opportunity to recover and people say incapacitation. 50 percent go to school and of that 50 percent, our information is that they go and sit. They don’t teach. You are at the receiving end and I appeal to the political, civic leadership and all of us here to conscientise ourselves what are we doing to our children,” he said.

The minister questioned why teachers would sit and face the children when they were together in the classroom.

“Incapacitation of riding a bus, which is subsidized by the government to go and teach a child in Bulawayo who is already behind in all their education system? I think it’s diabolic. It is not correct. You are incapacitated to go and teach a child, in some cases even in the rural areas where you are staying at the school and you see a child come and play all day.

“You are incapacitated to teach but teaching is intellectual property in your head, the incapacity is to tell your child who is there with you, I think we are not serious and that why I wanted this director to be honest with us,” fumed Moyo.

He indicated that other provinces were actually going ahead with lessons while Bulawayo remained behind.

“I know of provinces that are teaching. I think the highest attendance of both children and teachers and actually teaching is in Masvingo where there’s over 90 percent yet in another province like this one you have 50 percent. Whose children are suffering? Whose children are being discriminated?” he asked.

“I cannot go report and say everything is okay in Bulawayo when children are not learning. On the other hand, the low figure of child attendance at 68 percent, is it because of the consciousness of parents to say it’s better to have their children at home or are they afraid of Covid-19? We start to ask so many questions, which we must find on the ground.”

The minister was so incensed that he added, “If we needed  a prayer to overcome Covid-19, a more serious prayer for our children is needed.”

“Tomorrow, I need more answers that Bulawayo is in serious problems. It can’t be all Covid-19. It’s incapacitation, it’s a strike that’s exacerbating the situation that we had last year with a pass rate going way below. We said it’s Covid-19, it’s not Covid-19 alone, it is people who decided their personal welfare is at the detriment of 40 kids in their class. I am very unhappy about this.”

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