TEACHERS, just like their striking counterparts in the health sector, this week raised genuine concerns, which require President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s urgent attention, for they have a strong bearing on the quality of the country’s education sector.
It’s undeniable that, like all civil servants, teachers’ grievances have remained unresolved since 2013, and any further delay in addressing them spells doom for future generations.
Besides demanding an otherwise overdue salary review, the educators, in their petition to Mnangagwa on Tuesday, pleaded for an improvement in infrastructure, supply of learning materials and security guarantees against political goons particularly during election periods.
The way Mnangagwa will respond to these demands will certainly show whether he is committed to making Zimbabwe work again.
It’s unfortunate that Mnangagwa inherited a disgruntled civil service that has been fed on false promises and lies by former President Robert Mugabe, but that should be no excuse for ignoring or taking long to resolve those demands.
Waiting to address their grievances when schools open for the second term is counter-productive.
We need to have attractive salaries for teachers and that should be the principal aim of the government if it’s really committed to uplifting the sector and maintain the country’s high literacy rate.
During the last decade, Zimbabwe has lost an estimated 20 000 teachers and an innumerable number of doctors, agricultural extension officers and other key professionals to neighbouring countries, because of poor salaries and unfavourable conditions of service.
For how long shall we continue being a training ground for other countries using local resources.
The government should put its priorities right and redirect resources to key sectors, which have long-term benefits to the citizens instead of pampering Cabinet ministers and traditional leaders with posh vehicles and hefty allowances when teachers receive a measly salary of $400 per month.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president, Takavafira Zhou, said Mnangagwa hit the nail on the head, when he said the government should just tap into its rich mineral base and pay teachers a decent salary instead of hiding behind a tight fiscal space.
“We have not had a salary increment since 2013 and that is wrong because we see opulence everywhere.
“Government has been buying top-of-the-range cars for ministers and, recently, traditional leaders took delivery of cars.
“These are not the actions of a broke administration,” Zhou said.