THE cold war between teachers and the government over salary increment — which appears to have become the norm at the beginning of every school calendar year — will have a far- reaching negative impact on pupils who now have to spend time lazying around as no lessons are going on.
The impact will be more severe on pupils in examination classes because the time lost will never be recovered, and that will likely be reflected in their examination results. Stakeholders need to spare a thought for these innocent souls, whose future is at stake.
Their destiny, to a greater extent, is largely in their teachers’ hands. Parents are working their fingers to the bone to raise money for school fees which, more often than not, could be three times more than their salaries, only for the children to go to school and have no lessons. Who will refund them that money? What measures will be put in place to make up for the lost time?
While privately-owned schools have largely been spared the disturbances associated with the industrial action, it is important to realise that it is not every parent who has the financial muscle to send their child to a trust or mission-run school, which often costs an arm and a leg. But it is an injustice for pupils enrolled at government and council-run schools to be denied the right to education because their teachers are on industrial action against their employer.
Perhaps what makes this whole situation sadder is the fact that these problems have beset our nation even during the era of former President Robert Mugabe, but no lasting solutions were ever proffered. It has become a vicious cycle that is likely to haunt even generations to come, if not effectively addressed.
This also speaks to the need to increase budget allocations to critical sectors like education, because this is where the national human resource base is drawn from. This is where the future of the country lies.
What is currently happening has a potential to recall what happened in 2009 when the education sector nearly collapsed, and the then Education minister David Coltart was forced to forge partnerships with other private players to ensure that schools had access to learning materials.
This is a matter that demands urgent redress.