ZIMBABWE could face a mass exodus of teachers after the United Kingdom (UK) started recruiting educators from the country and three other African nations .
Reports from the UK indicate that Zimbabwean teachers are eligible for a qualified teacher status (QTS) in that country with effect from February 1 next year.
The QTS is required for one to teach in primary and secondary schools in England.
The British embassy in Zimbabwe yesterday confirmed the call for the applications to NewsDay.
“We can confirm that the UK link on call for the vacant posts is genuine,” the embassy said in response to a NewsDay inquiry.
The offer for teaching job opportunities in the UK has also been extended to educators from Ukraine, Singapore, Jamaica, India and Hong Kong.
In the UK, a teacher’s salary is pegged at £24 254 for a non-qualified teacher per annum, which is equivalent to about US$30 000 for posts in inner London and £20 480 or US$25 000 for the rest of England.
Unions representing teachers yesterday said there had been an overwhelming interest in the UK job offer owing to lucrative packages being offered.
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Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said educators were leaving the country in droves in search of greener pastures.
“There are calls for teachers even in the southern African region countries such as Botswana and South Africa, among others. This year alone, we have 15 teachers who have formally bid farewell to us, not talking of those who are silently packing their bags,” Majongwe said.
“Teachers have also been captured by UK job vacancies. It is a sad story. Elderly teachers should be enjoying the fruit of their work in Zimbabwe, but they are going to other countries to work there. We are suffering a serious brain drain in the country that will affect starting this year and beyond.”
Teachers have in the past been engaging in strikes demanding to be paid pre-October 2018 salaries of at least US$540, but government has resisted citing incapacitation.
Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni said teachers were excited about the latest call.
“It is not surprising that we will see a massive exodus of teachers, even school heads and their deputies this coming year,” Majoni said.
“Teachers have been calling for better wages and the stampede to apply for the UK and other countries’ vacant posts is a cause of concern. This is a wake-up call for government, which should act with urgency to improve the conditions of service and retain the teachers.”
NewsDay has gathered that teachers, who have declared interest, in the UK teaching vacancies have since formed groups on social media where they share and access information on the opportunities.
One WhatsApp group, which was created by UK-based administrators on Monday, had 4 600 participants as of yesterday.
Earlier this year, government declared that it had a deficit of over 20 000 teachers.
But unions representing teachers have said the figure was understated.
Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro referred questions to the Public Service ministry when contacted for comment yesterday.
Public Service minister Paul Mavima was not picking calls.
Public Service Commission secretary Tsitsi Choruma was not reachable.
The country has lost a number of health professionals, including at least 3 000 nurses to the UK in the past two years.