By Judith Sibanda
The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (ZIMTA), the country’s biggest teacher organisation, has commended the Monday protest by Njube High School learners over poor remuneration and conditions of service for teachers, dismissing claims, the children were incited to demonstrate.
On Monday pupils from Njube High School took to the streets over the rot in the education sector which has compromised learning at most public schools.
Carrying a portrait of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and waving the Zimbabwe flag, the learners sang “education is ours” as they marched on through Njube, Mpopoma and Entumbane suburbs, before being ordered to return to school by the head, Zibusiso Msimanga.
A biology teacher at the school, Brian Mutsiba who was in the company of the learners and believed by authorities to have incited them is being looked for by police in connection with the demonstration.
“The high school children’s concerns are very genuine; these children have been commended for fighting from the teachers’ corner over the teachers’ conditions of service,” said ZIMTA secretary-general Tapson Nganunu Sibanda.
“They (learners) deserve support from all of us because they expressed their concerns without violence or damaged property. It is within their constitutional right to express themselves in that way. The school fees in most government schools are now beyond the reach of Zimbabweans so there was therefore nothing amiss in what those children did on school fees.”ZIMTA secretary-general Tapson Nganunu Sibanda.
Sibanda said the demonstration by the children was a testimony that the education sector had collapsed.
“Njube saga is a confirmation that not all is well in the education sector,” said Sibanda.
“We would like to urge the government to quickly look into the conditions of service for teachers as teachers are not reporting for work. They are severely incapacitated and the situation doesn’t need dealing with symptoms anymore, but needs to be dealt with wholesomely as expressed in our position paper.”
Parts of the teachers’ demands include payment of salaries equivalent to US$475 for the lowest paid civil servant.