World Teachers Day: A day of mourning, teachers lament

As teachers across the globe commemorate World Teachers Day tomorrow, Zimbabwean teachers have said they have nothing to celebrate citing poor remuneration and conditions of service.

Commemorations to mark World Teachers’ Day, also known as International Teachers Day, are held every year on October 5 to honour teachers and recognise their contributions to education and development.

This year’s commemorations run under the theme: “The Transformation of Education Begins with Teachers.”

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, Dr Takavafira Zhou, told CITE that while they have lined up activities to commemorate the day in Wedza (Mash East), Chivi (Masvingo); and Binga (Mat North), in essence, there is nothing to celebrate.

“There is nothing to celebrate as teachers are wallowing in poverty and misery,” he decried.

“The day has lost its importance and has been reduced to a day of mourning as teachers have fallen from grace to grass with monotonous regularity.”

He challenged the government to restore the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries to US$540.

“The government must respect meaningful collective bargaining under section 65 of the constitution and social dialogue as opposed to the current collective begging under an obsolete and moribund statutory instrument 141 of 1997,” he said.

The government must respect ILO Conventions 87, 98, 151 and 154 in order to enhance industrial harmony and productivity in schools. The government must engage teachers in curriculum review rather than impose a politically motivated curriculum.”

Zhou said as part of improving teachers’ conditions of service there is a need for authorities to ensure proper teacher: pupil ratio in schools is adhered to.

Turning to this year’s theme: “The Transformation of Education begins with teachers,” said the government’s focus should be on well-remunerated, motivated and trained teachers

“There is a need to prioritise professional advice and educational taxonomy in introducing educational reforms rather than political expediency,” he said.

“Well-paid teachers in safe schools are a must for quality public education which must be accessible and affordable by the majority of Zimbabweans. Neo-liberal reforms that are promoting the privatisation of the education system must be resisted in favour of quality public education funded by the government of the day.”

He added: “The educational budget of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must be above 22% of the national budget in line with the Dakar agreement by African countries and UNESCO Developmental budget. Schools must be politically-free zones with teachers and pupils never force-marched to attend political gatherings of any party.”

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