BY TAFADZWA KACHIKO
Labour unions representing teachers say the announcement by government that it had recruited an estimated 4 000 teachers was a joke, saying the country has over about 50 000 vacant posts.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Evelyn Ndlovu told Parliament on Wednesday that the ministry had recruited 3 900 teachers to address a critical shortage of teaching staff in government schools.
Early this year, the ministry said it was targeting to recruit at least 10 000 teachers in 2022.
However, unions said the country suffered a serious shortage of teachers as educators were quitting their jobs en masse to protest poor salaries.
“The number is a drop in the sand because we have a serious shortage in the education sector. Teachers are resigning daily out of frustrations emanating from poor remunerations,” Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapedza Zhou told NewsDay Weekender.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said a survey by the union revealed that the deficit of teachers in the education sector was nearly 50 000.
“This recruitment is insignificant and we urge government to speedily address the deficit in schools so that we address the high teacher: pupil ratio,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said: “While they are recruiting, teachers are leaving the profession en masse,” he said.
“The underpayment of teachers has reduced them to paupers and made the profession unattractive. Some of the recruited teachers are refusing to go to work having realised that they signed up for poverty.”
Zimbabwe Union of School Heads secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni urged authorities to recruit more teachers to address the challenges of staff shortages.
“In addition, deliberate efforts must be made to address welfare challenges, especially finding a permanent solution to salary disputes between teachers and their employer so that high staff turnover is curbed,” Majoni said.
According to Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro, Zimbabwe currently has an estimated 145 000 teachers against 4,6 million learners.
Ndoro denied that the country had a shortfall of an estimated 50 000 teachers despite noting the existing staffing challenges
“The 3 906 teachers were recruited to add on to the close to 1 500 recruited in March as the Ministry moves towards the 10 000 which it aims to employ before the end of the year,” he said.
Teachers and government have been at loggerheads over poor salaries and working conditions, with educators demanding pre-2018 salaries of US$540 or the equivalent in local currency at the interbank rate.
Early this year, government suspended a number of educators for going on strike demanding better salaries and working conditions.
Government also docked part of their salaries.
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