The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Ptuz) has expressed shock at government’s surprise decision to “ambush” the education sector with a Monday reopening date when systems were not yet ready for such.
After a prolonged Covid-19 induced three-month closure, Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa announced Wednesday government has finally ordered schools reopening starting 31 August 2021 for examination classes and 6 September for non-examination classes.
In comments shared via social media, Ptuz president Takavafira Zhou said government did not factor in contributions by teachers’ unions on the best timeframes for reopening.
He also questioned how the same administration that, a day earlier, extended the country’s lockdown by an additional two weeks citing continued dangers associated with the Covid-19 scourge, could still find it appropriate to decree schools reopening within that period.
“This is surely an ambush, a day after the government had even enunciated an extension of lockdown for two weeks which ordinarily entailed that the issue of opening of schools would be determined after two weeks.
“Teachers unions also made suggestions for successful reopening of schools and one would have thought that there would be an attempt to reconcile various union submissions before government would announce the dates for reopening of schools.
“However, this has not happened as the tragedy in life is that those who make decisions may not necessarily have ideas, while those with ideas (teachers) do not make decisions.”
Zhou said his teachers union favoured a September reopening after the educators have been paid their wages and in light of the hot temperatures experienced during that time of the year.
Zimbabwe’s Covid-19 cases surged furiously during winter.
Said Zhou, “Our projection as Ptuz was to the effect that schools could open around September pay day taking advantage of hot temperatures and more vaccination to contribute to decline of Covid cases and giving government adequate time to provide Covid abatement equipment to schools, let alone providing running water to many schools.
“It was also our hope that schools would open after government would have addressed the quandary of teachers’ starvation wages.”
Zhou urged teachers affiliated to his organisation to submit their views on how they wished to respond to the government decision with signs the militant teachers’ group was considering another boycott.
“Now that government has come with this ambush, disregarding logic and common sense, and bearing in mind that teachers are grossly incapacitated and cannot even travel to their respective working stations, let alone pay school fees, it is incumbent upon them to respond to government enunciation,” he said.