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Teachers deserve respect

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Amai Kurauone in Gokwe is a boastful mother. All her children are well-educated and gainfully employed.

Peter is a boilermaker in South Africa, Dorothy is a nurse in London, Mavis is an electrical engineer in Australia and Rudo doubles as a lawyer and an enterprising businesswoman in Harare.

Bragging?

Yes! The children are her source of treasured pride. But has she paused to think about the source of that source? Kutenda cherima, kutenda mupereki (Be grateful for the deliverer of rare treasures).

Teachers deserve profound thanks from the society. They are the buzzing bees that bring honey. Had it not been for their sterling job, Amai Kurauone’s joy would have been a utopian dream.

Teachers play a pivotal role in society. Most prominent people passed through the holy hands of teachers, but the treatment they get is not commensurate with noble services they provide.

In the dark days of economic quagmire, a teacher became an object of ridicule.

Jokes were crafted with a deadly determination to castrate teachers’ and deprive them of dignity.

One of the jokes goes: a student’s meat pie went missing in a classroom. It is said the first suspect was a teacher since his salary was too meagre to buy even a pack of condoms.

Another one says a farmer was troubled by marauding baboons for days on end.

Having exhausted all strategies at his disposal to protect his field he declared to all baboons: “Now I am giving you the final warning. If you invade my field once again I am going to make you all teachers.” It is said the baboons stampeded away, fearing that the angry farmer might apprehend them and force them to be teachers.

From that day, it is said, the baboons never returned.

Even touts and gold panners (makorokoza) are well-known to refer themselves as teachers if they have no money to spend for a particular day.

In bars they were often heard shouting thinly veiled attacks on teachers.

President Barack Obama has reportedly said teachers are nation builders. To substantiate this view here are facts.

The first Shona novel, Feso (1956) was written by a teacher, Solomon Mutswairo, who also penned a number of novels.

He is the composer of the current national anthem: Simudzai Mureza weZimbabwe (1994). Before it we had been using God Bless Africa, the 1897 brainchild of yet another teacher, Enock M Sontanga, a South African.

The Herald of April 14 2011 quoted Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) saying 99% of current legislators were teachers by profession.

President Robert Mugabe and the late Tanzanian president Julius Nyerere were once teachers. In music and in media we have a lot of teachers.

Where are they now? Prolific writers like Chenjerai Hove, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Musaemura Zimunya, Memory Chirere etc are teachers. Aren’t teachers national builders? Why then look at them with cavalierly glances?

Teachers, like other civil servants, need respect.

How can teachers reclaim their glory?

l Give them living salaries
They need to live a middle-class life style, they need homes in towns, they need cars , they need access to medical facilities among basic necessities of life. Teachers in rural areas either cycle or walk to work while gold panners drive! Teachers’ incentives must be abolished forthwith. They are a burden to over-burdened parents. How can poor peasants pay teachers?

l No violence to teachers
It is a pity to see a teacher being flogged and traumatised by his/her former students for going “politically astray”.
“Teachers . . . have a democratic right to participate in politics and no violence of any form should be perpetrated against them . . . ” said Tendai Chikowore of Zimta in The Herald of April 14 2011.

l If the indigenisation programme is done properly teachers should also be considered.
After all is said and done, everybody should be duty-bound to redeem teachers’ dignity. To Amai Kurauone, I say join others to restore the teachers rightful place in society. Had there not been teachers, your children would have hardly made successful strides in life.

Do you have a burning issue on any topic? Write to kmudzingwa@newsday.co.zw and we will publish your article. Articles should be between 600-800 words.

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