PRIMARY and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora has come under fire from teachers’ unions for reportedly “resorting to military tactics” in dealing with educators.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said Dokora had threatened to fire school heads who were not delivering quality results.
“The idea of threats, attacks, blunders and orders is not synonymous with education. It is found in the military and Dokora wants to bring this into the education sector. We will not accept it. Teachers are working under atrocious conditions with children suffering, especially this winter and we have a minister who is preoccupied with sabre-rattling,” Majongwe told NewsDay.
“Dokora and [permanent secretary Sylvia] Utete-Masango’s combination is worse than the one the minister had with Constance Chigwamba [now with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission]. Education is a technical field and it’s dangerous to dump every civil servant they think has nowhere else to fit. We do not know where Utete-Masango is coming from and her specialty.”
Recently, Dokora issued a stark warning to non-performers and teachers with little appreciation of the new curriculum.
“We cannot move on like this. There are going to be a lot of casualties. Now do you want us to review the retirement age of teaching downwards because we can lobby government for that?” he reportedly said.
Majongwe’s sentiments were echoed by Zimbabwe Teachers’ Union spokesperson Tapson Nganunu-Sibanda, who urged a sober approach to issues affecting education.
“As much as we cannot encourage laziness, we believe that there are a lot of factors that affect the pass rate beyond the incompetence of teachers and school-heads. The new curriculum in particular has its own shortcomings that we should all sit down and find solutions to.
“These threats are not necessary. We need a sober approach to our problems rather than rushing to shift blame and cutting our noses to spite our faces,” Nganunu-Sibanda said.
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers’ Union leader Obert Masaraure was more scathing in his response to Dokora.
“Rule by force is the preserve of the inept who have no skills to motivate their subordinates boldly towards goal attainment. Dokora has monumentally failed and is tragically transforming our education system into a circus,” Masaraure said. “The only person who should be fired for incompetence is Dokora because the same teachers he is accusing of failing performed well under successive ministers before him.”
He said Dokora’s “fascist” approach to issues had demoralised teachers and learners alike.
Dokora and his ministry’s spokesperson Patrick Zumbo were not available for comment yesterday.