BY NOKUTHABA DLAMINI
Zimbabwe’s largest teachers’ union has bemoaned the poor working conditions its members have to endure and called for the authorities to do more to improve the country’s education system.
In a message to mark World Teachers Day, which is commemorated annually on October 5, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) said poor remuneration had become the biggest threat to the teaching profession.
“Teachers being at the heart of education recovery, call for a review of the conditions of learning and teaching and place these on a pedestal of professional recognition,” said Zimta, which has 3 000 members.
“Zimbabwe’s education remains an envy of many developing nations, lets reflect on teachers and review their socio-economic status.”
Zimbabwe’s teachers say their salaries have been eroded by inflation and the collapse of the local currency.
Since 2018 they have been demanding that the government restores their salaries to the equivalent of US$520, which they were earning before the reintroduction of the local currency.
An average Zimbabwean teacher now earns less than US$200 a month.
Zimta said besides the low remuneration, teachers had borne the brunt of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The teaching fraternity lost erstwhile educators and unionists, who succumbed to Covid-19,” the association said.
“We pay special tribute to these departed colleagues and commiserate with all those, who suffered the experiences of the pandemic.
“They were indeed in the frontline of Zimbabwe’s education survival and recovery.”
Zimta said despite the challenges, teachers were still determined to be at the heart of the recovery programmes after the Covid-19 devastation.
” The theme for this year is “Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery” and is a befitting one in celebration of our teachers, who despite all the odds persevered with exemplary leadership amid the Covid-19 crisis and pedagogical shifts,” the association added.
“With passion, our educators applied their skills and sophistry to organize and support learners.
” Being at the centre of recovery means the nation has an obligation to provide for education, learners, teachers and all education support personnel, all hands-on deck, to resuscitate education and ensure that teaching and learning continues to occur despite the odds.
“Education cannot wait.”