Minister begs for teachers’ patience

The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Paul Mavima, on Saturday urged teachers to be patient as government considered their remuneration and other working conditions.

He was speaking at World Teachers’ Day commemorations, ran under the theme, “A Call for Teachers” and organised by the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe in the capital.

Mavima said the shortage of teachers had resulted in the government opting for untrained personnel thus leading to a reduction in pass rates.

“High attrition of qualified personnel that took place as a result of the more than decade-long general economic downturn in the country and poor conditions for teachers resulted in unpalatable student teacher ratios, use of untrained teachers and reduction in the social value and the status of teachers.

“The learning and teaching conditions in most of our schools, especially the rural ones, are characterised by poor infrastructure and inadequate teaching and learning materials. The review and reorientation of our curriculum is long overdue and should take place as a matter of urgency,” said Mavima.

He said that the education sector had also suffered from HIV related deaths that claimed a number of qualified personnel as well but added that the government was working to ensure better housing for teachers in rural areas.

“Our teachers in the rural areas cannot continue to inhabit dilapidated accommodation and teach in rooms that are falling apart or non-existent especially in most of the satellite schools that have been set up in resettlement areas of the country.

“While great progress has been made in ensuring access to text books, there is need to achieve and maintain one textbook per student at all levels of the primary and secondary education system,” said Mavima.

The event was however marked by low attendance of less than 300 people with teachers interviewed saying there was nothing for Zimbabwean teachers to celebrate.

“Given our paltry salaries, what do you think is there for us to celebrate. I think this explains the low turnout you are seeing here,” said a teacher who declined to be named.

Another interviewee said: “Teachers have lost hope; right now they are earning below the Poverty Datum Line, so sometimes it makes no sense for them to gather at events like these ones.”

Teachers are among civil servants pushing for steep salary reviews, arguing their salaries pegged at below the poverty datum line are unsustainable.

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