Irrespective of the forbidding fees being demanded by our children’s schools – in the midst of a comatose economy, which is virtually languishing in the intensive care unit – we have made every effort in ensuring everything was in order for them to resume their delayed learning program.
We justifiably complained of the prohibitive costs, yes – but, quite a significant number of parents had their children ready for the beginning of the school year today (August 7, 2022), with fees paid, new uniforms bought, and required materials available – yet, when they arrived at their educational institutions this morning, there was one major component glaringly missing.
There were no teachers!
Of course, this did not exactly take us by surprise – since we have already known of their demands for capacitation, through livable wages, at par with what they used to received before October 2018.
However, this has only been met with shameful arrogance, stubbornness, and downright chicanery by their employer (the government of Zimbabwe) – which has placed more effort in deceiving these hardworking teachers, than genuinely addressing their legitimate concerns.
Surely, how are our men and women – who are truly the bedrock of any society, as they are responsible for shaping us, and imparting valuable knowledge in us – expected to make ends meet, let alone loyally attend to their duties, when they earn less than ZW$19,000 (about US$95) per month?
Whom, amongst their employers – whose notoriety for disgraceful opulence, in the middle of disgusting poverty of the citizenry, is world famous – can even dare to survive on such a pathetic and sorrowful salary?
As a matter of fact, do they not give their own children such amounts for a day out with friends – and, that would even entice disgruntlement, by their spoilt offspring, as being too little.
Yet, they expect our teachers to “budget and plan accordingly” as one of the ruling elite’s spokespersons – Nick Ndavaningi Mangwana – once insultingly and shockingly suggested.
As a parent myself, learning of our children’s inability to receive any learning today – and, obviously tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that – does not fill me with outrage at these teachers.
No, not at all!
Nonetheless, all my wrath is entirely reserved for those who are refusing to “render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” – considering that, what these teachers are demanding is not only logical and reasonable, but are deserving, since the US$540 per month has always been what they were contractually entitled to.
This was before the so-called “new dispensation” decided to experiment with Zimbabweans’ livelihoods, through the ill-concieved and illogical reintroduction of a seriously flawed local currency in 2019 – that has never been anchored on any sound economics, but purely on the leaders’ own ego – which has never been stable, but understandably depreciating at an alarming rate against other major currencies.
Literally overnight, from 2019, Zimbabweans were reduced to paupers – as their savings and salaries, that had been at par with the US dollar – lost value to frightening levels, not experienced since the hyperinflationary years of the early 2000s.
Instead of those in authority eating humble pie and being outstanding gentlemen and ladies, by either reversing this undoubtedly defective economic policy, or at the very least pegging teachers’ remunerations at the prevailing exchange rate – they have, as per custom, chosen the path of arrogance and deceit.
There have been irritatingly endless promises of a seriousness in addressing this anomaly – with both the finance and labour ministers, Mthuli Ncube and Paul Mavima respectively, repeatedly and disingenuously assuring salaries equivalent to the pre-October 2018 US$540, by deadlines that have never been met.
Are we, as parents, then expected to blame our children’s teachers for not pitching up for duty today, and days or months to come?
I know who exactly to place the blame squarely on – and, that is the government, which has refused to act in a just and lawful manner.
Let us remember that, teachers are the ones who have been illegally prejudiced their US$540 contractually entitled salaries.
Besides, how are they supposed to turn up for work on a US$95 per month salary?
Yet, we have a government that can never keep quiet over the billions of dollars they have managed to save, through their much-touted budget surpluses – as well as, alleged successes in mining, agriculture, and other sectors of the economy.
Where is all that money being channeled towards – because, quite frankly, our country has constantly been on a downward spiral for the last four years?
More surprising, is the ability of our authorities in readily forking out billions on road interchanges (reportedly the most expensive on the continent), and other shady deals – whilst, turning a deaf ear to the biggest investment of all…our children’s education.
To add insult to injury, even had our teachers been capacitated, our children’s schools are more of museum-appropriate antiquated institutions – which lack the most basic learning material, not to mention the non-existence of modern-day technologies, more so in this age of COVID-19 lockdowns.
Whilst our children sit at home without any appropriate educational material, nor access to e-learning – with a few able to attend extra lessons for one or two subjects – their wealthier counterparts have never ceased learning.
Surely, how is Zimbabwe expected to develop and succeed, when we are ignoring its future – as the government appears intent on creating an uneducated generation?
Who will run our country tomorrow?
Who will operate industry?
Who will develop new technologies?
When nearly 90% per cent of our children can not access any meaningful learning – simply because our country’s leaders would rather not capacitate their teachers.
I know exactly who to blame for our children’s destroyed future!
© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]Post published in: Featured