21 September 2020

Joint statement by Teacher Unions in Zimbabwe Concerning Re-opening of Schools

REALISING that the gvt has since announced the dates for re-opening of schools for exam classes and commencement of exams,

IRKED that this announcement was not a product of widespread consultations and meaningful engagement with teacher unions but a ‘diktat’ by gvt,

PERTURBED that gvt has totally ignored the welfare of teachers as evidenced by salaries that were received by teachers in September,

AWARE that the Total Consumption Poverty Line (TCPL) for a family of five is now above ZW$ 17 244 as given by Zimstat,

SURPRISED by the continued salary discrepancies between teachers and the other civil servants, especially the uniformed forces,

UNITED in our diversity by our common desire for the entrenchment of a credible quality public education system in Zimbabwe,

ACKNOWLEDGING the worthlessness of current infinite negotiations under NJNC and lack of seriousless and urgency in such negotiations

REAFFIRMING the position that the economy has fully redollarised, with prices of most goods and services pegged in US Dollars, including those offered by gvt itself,

NOTING that there are still Covid 19 active cases, most of them being local,

ADEQUATELY INFORMED that most boarding schools have increased fees to between $20 000 and $40 000 while the teacher’s salaries have remained stagnant in a volatile economic environment,

EMPHASIZING that well paid teachers in safe schools is a must for quality public education.

AWARE that all teachers are financially crippled and have no capacity to report at their respective schools on 28 September

We, the undersigned Teacher Unions in Zimbabwe, now therefore, urge the government to:

▪️ Urgently expedite consultations with all teachers’ unions with a view to sharing ideas on the way forward before the opening of schools. This is informed by the fact that teachers’unions are a key stakeholder in the education sector and represent the very people who are implementers of gvt policies;

▪️ Restore the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries pegged at USD500 to USD550.

▪️ Implement meaningful education sector-specific allowances that commensurate with teachers responsibilities and status.

▪️ Pay a Covid allowance that is a product of negotiations or agreement between employer and teachers rather than the current benevolence gesture dubbed presidential prerogative. If schools reopen during this Covid period, it entails that teachers will be frontline workers who deserve a meaningful covid allowance;

▪️ Pay salaries that resonate with workers’ qualifications, experience, responsibilities and promotion rather than the current scenario where physical fitness has become more rewarding.

▪️Establish an Inclusive Covid 19 Task Force to assess the level of preparedness of schools before re-opening.

▪️ Ensure that schools are safe to receive the learners and teachers and their health, safety and welfare are highly prioritised. The $600 million set aside by gvt should reflect on the ground, in schools not in the media only or end in higher offices without reaching the intended beneficiaries. Currently, there is almost nothing in public schools because the school coffers are dry since there hasn’t been any collection of fees after closure in March 2020.

▪️ Give teachers and learners enough time to cover syllabi and prepare for exams. The period of two months between 28 September 2020 and 1 December 2020 (the proposed date for commencement of exams) does not adequately compensate for the lost time of six months since schools closed.

▪️ Listen to professional advice and provide a broad blue print that covers all learners than being restricted only to exam classes.

Indeed, there is nothing as dangerous as having under-paid, undernourished, under-resourced and demotivated teachers in the classrooms because teachers are in essence role models of their communities and society and help to shape the future of individuals, society and the country. It is only well-paid, healthy, motivated, innovative and dynamic teachers that can fulfill this vital cog of sustainable development.

Jointly signed by

ARTUZ – Chere R. (0775643192)
PTUZ – Zunde L. (0772198868)
TUZ – Phiri R. (0772680952)
ZDTU – Tasaranarwo F. (0773816324)
ZIMTA – Sibanda N. T. (0772803254)
ZINATU – Nyawo M. (0774013500)
ZINEU – Chinosengwa C. (0715815347)
ZRTU – Fambai F. (0775226380).