TEACHERS are supposed to be smart people, and are largely responsible for shaping up our society, guiding children from as early as three years old to adulthood at anywhere between 17-25 years of age.
In a global crisis wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic, we expect our educators to be at the forefront of helping the nation by dispensing the correct information about the virus and how to combat it.
So, reports that only 5% of the country’s estimated 140 000 teachers in public schools have been vaccinated are worrying, especially as learners have been trooping back to schools and institutions of higher learning to resume face-to-face classes.
This spells danger, as reports elsewhere are showing a rise in coronavirus infections among pupils who have already returned to their respective schools. Zimbabwe only last week gave a go-ahead for those aged between 14 and 17 years to get vaccinated, but this was after classes for those writing examinations had already resumed, meaning there is a huge likelihood that not many took the jab.
That makes schools and institutions of higher learning potential hotspots for the spread of the virus, and the danger is multiplied by the fact that the tutors are largely an unvaccinated lot.
Worryingly, the reluctance by teachers to get the jab comes at a time there is a new variant, the C.1.2, which had been detected in all provinces in neighbouring South Africa, with reports that it has also been detected in the country.
As a result, unvaccinated teachers pose a grave danger to not only the learners, but the entire population. Those that are not inoculated are not only putting themselves at risk, but the entire country.
It is difficult to understand their hesitancy to take the jab, they are supposed to be more informed, more understanding of the developing situation, or their unions are supposed to be assisting them grasp the gravity of the problems facing the country. The song cannot just be about more money and cries about incapacitation!
Teachers, get vaccinated. You save not only yourself, but your learners, your families and the whole country. Get more knowledge of the COVID-19 issues and what is at stake in the battle against the virus.
Learners listen to you, parents listen to you, so ignorant and unvaccinated teachers pose a grave danger to the country.
Yes, it is unthinkable for government to okay the reopening of schools with such low levels of vaccination among the teachers, putting thousands of teachers, nearly six million pupils and over 80 000 ancillary staff in danger.
The suggestion by Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera for a special programme to inoculate teachers at their workstations should be taken seriously.
The same could be said for the 14 to 17 years age group: they are all in school, and getting them vaccinated should not be a problem.