Today is the most important day on a teacher’s calendar all over the world. The world over commemorates the pivotal role that Educators have played and continue to play in bringing about civilisation, literacy, development and light to the world. The Theme this year is ‘Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery’ and summarily reminds the world rethink and restore the Educators to their proper position to realise national educational goals.
Educators have remained a beacon to the world, the pivot around which all other professions are connected. Teachers today are reminded of the good choice of a career that they have made, a choice grow to communities and nations, a choice to produce soldiers, police officers, judges, nurses, doctors, pilots, politicians, shopkeepers… the space won’t permit. Every single one of us remains at the centre of World Development Goals and Educational Recovery. We are irreplaceable and indispensable professionals and the only hope for dreams of a brighter future in every nation and household.
The 05 October for Zimbabwean Educators is a different one. It fails to cause about anticipated celebrations, but brings about memories of betrayal and intrigue and hopelessness in face of future. It’s a Mourning Day. A long forgotten profession, uninspiring conditions of work and a laughing stock in Cabinet briefings. This year’s World Teachers Day in Zimbabwe is just another day when Teachers are reminded of their grim past and present. The day has just came in face of the following:
1. An ever declining standard of living among Educators since the fall from grace in 2018, when salaries were pegged at $540. Salaries dramatically fell to US35.00 in 2020, were rejuvinated to US$200 by the Collective efforts of teachers through the Teachers Can’t Breathe Movement by Mid 2021, yet are already deflating at an alarming hourly rate. It is well before the October payday, yet our salaries are already at around US$160.00
2. A sharp increase in robbery of the freedoms of teachers. Recently, it has been epitomised by a granny, Senzeni Nyathi, or who ever was behind the granny, intoxicating her innocent grand child, in an attempt to undermine the rights of Educators at the same time erroneously glorifying the other right, what a gross miscarriage of justice! At 18, the kid will always refer back to this dark patch of history that an irresponsible guardian chose to sue teachers instead of teaching a grand child to respect them
3. Not less than 60% of Educators are enslaved to loan sharks, and there seems to be no solution in sight to break out of the loan cycle. The Ministry expect Educators to report for duty despite full incapacitation. A new Statutory Instrument may soon require that all teachers borrow in order to report for duty, and this has already been confirmed by Madam Secretary for Education, Thabela, last month in her post cabinet briefing.
4. Everywhere, the employer has replenished his weapons and is at the Educator’s throat. Various reports of victimisation directed towards incapacitated teachers are coming to us. The PEDs, DSIs and School heads have been put at the forefront of this battle like Uriah, while David ‘s fingers are crossed in anticipation of good results.
5. The Ministry of Finance has since abrogated it’s responsibility on Educators’ salaries. In response to the ever declining value of the Educators wages, Minister Mthuli Ncube has promised that this year, there is bonus!
6. Lastly, there is a recent facelift in the Education Ministry, brought by the appointment of Madam Evelyn Ndhlovu as the new Minister of Primary and Secondary Education. Congratulations madam Minister on your appointment. We wish you well on your new assignment, and are more than ready to work with you for the resuscitation of our Ministry. Your appointment coincide with this year’s theme, Teachers at the Heart of Education Recovery and it is our hope that this theme will find a special place in your office.
Educators all over the national divide, there is no better day to unite than today, the 5th of October. Unionised and non unionised teachers alike, we have been united by our employer through poverty, indiscriminate mockery and unending victimisation. What is particularly common among us, is that we will die paupers for failing to make a collective decision. The cost of our own negligence and selfishness towards issues that affects us is unbearable yet inescapable. This day is therefore a reminder that everyone of us should partake in this noble struggle, and next year during this time, we should be talking of a different 05 October.
As Educators’ Union of Zimbabwe, we commit ourselves to 3 resolutions that should change our profession by the next 5 October:
1. Engaging every stakeholder who can make the restoration of US$540 a reality, from the employer, fellow Educators’ Unions, Government labour organisations, Lawyers, the Media, Parents Organisations and above all, every single Educator, School Head and DSI. It’s no longer time to play tom foolery. Our cause is genuine and those prepared to be used as willing instruments in the suppression of the Educators, be warned that you don’t belong to our Ministry.
2. The time for negotiations that we gave our Employer is over. The time that the employer gave us by which our salaries will be restored to $540 was June 2021, it is over again. After that, no more time was borrowed! In view, of this abandonment, and deafening silence by the employer, we as Educators’ across the national divide have been left alone to decide what is best for us, and today 05 October, we are already beginning to map the way forward. Let’s all brace for the new initiatives ahead. The time to reclaim our $540 is now!
3. We call upon all Educators to join a union that will turnaround the fortunes of all teachers. This we can’t do alone without a single one of you. Let’s own this battle for $540 or we choose to die like paupers with no one to blame. We have vowed to enrich our nation through education, and we deserve to be paid for our services. We deserve the dignity accorded to Educators here in our own motherland. We don’t deserve to die in Rwanda or be dignified by Rwandans. We belong here!
- Tapedza Zhou (Secretary General)- Educators’ Union of Zimbabwe