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Teachers petition Parly over surge in COVID-19 cases

Local News
In 2021, several schoolchildren were infected with the virus, resulting in prolonged closure of schools.

BY LORRAINE MUROMO/METHEMBE SIBANDA/MIRIAM MANGWAYA TEACHERS yesterday petitioned Parliament demanding safety guarantees in the face of the fast-rising COVID-19 cases.

In 2021, several schoolchildren were infected with the virus, resulting in prolonged closure of schools.

In their petition which was handed over during a meeting with two MPs, 50 teachers and two school dropouts in Harare, the educators accused the Primary and Secondary Education ministry of failing to implement measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic in schools.

They also alleged ill-treatment by their employer.

“We the teachers of Zimbabwe, organising under the ‘Save Our Education’, are worried about massive spreading of COVID-19 in schools, angered by the slave wages we are receiving, infuriated by government’s failure to pay invigilation allowances, enslaved by the 12% towards education in the 2022 budget,” read the petition.

“We are shocked to learn that almost 50% prospective 2021 candidates failed to enrol for examinations and the high numbers of school drop outs due to poverty, leading to early child marriages with 60% of pupils dropping out of schools.”

The petition called on the government to enhance their safety in schools in the face of rising COVID-19 cases.

In Gutu district, teachers under the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association of Zimbabwe (Artuz) claimed intimidation by politicians in collaboration with the district schools inspector Ronald Muganhu.

Artuz president Obert Masaraure told NewsDay Weekender that he had received information that there is a ploy to remove all teachers perceived to be anti-Zanu PF from Gutu district.

“We are receiving a series of complaints from teachers in Gutu. The conduct of Zanu PF party is shameful and the partisan conduct of some of our education managers is embarrassing.  Schools should be a space to enjoy the beauty of diversity of our ideas as teachers so that new knowledge is freely accessible.”

Masaraure said as the 2023 elections beckon, teachers were living in fear of political persecution.

Zanu PF director of information Tafadzwa Mugwadi said: “We are not aware of this as a party because we have neither control nor influence over the running of ministries.”

Party spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa referred questions regarding the alleged intimidation of Gutu teachers by Masvingo senator Lovemore Matuke who was not picking up his phone yesterday.

Last week, a teacher at Serima High School in Gutu claimed that he was being terrorised by Gutu West MP John Paradza (Zanu PF).  Paradza, however, denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, the government has gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 1 of 2022, which stipulates that schools will remain closed until January 14, 2022, pending review of the COVID-19 situation in the country.

Only examination classes have ben allowed to resume physical lessons.

Statistics released by the Health ministry show that on Wednesday, the country recorded 1 121  new COVID-19 cases and 16 deaths, while the seven-day rolling average for new cases  dropped from 1 343 recorded on Monday to 1 207.

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