Mistreated Zimbabwean teachers Tuesday took the occasion of the World Teachers’ Day commemoration to “mourn the demise” of their once esteemed profession.
The day is held annually every 5 October to commemorate the anniversary of the 1994 adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO.
In a speech, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said the day came as a sad reminder of the multiple hardships faced by the country’s educators.
“The status of teachers has continued to decline with an eroded salary of US$520-US4550 in October 2018 reduced to the current equivalent of US$130-US$175.
“The threat of Covid 19 has not generated any reasonable support for new pedagogical paradigms, with gvt failing to prioritise mandatory testing for teachers, pupils and ancillary staff before re-opening of schools, let alone placing covid abatement equipment in schools.”
Zhou regretted the “quantum leap” on covid cases in schools saying many boarding schools in the country have inadvertently been reduced into quarantine centres.
Likewise, he said, a lot of day primary and secondary schools have resorted to sending Covid-19 infected students on sabbatical holidays usually stretching for two weeks.
“As such, instead of celebrating the work of dedicated teachers around the world, on 5 October 2021, we are mourning the demise of the teaching profession, with monotonous regularity, from grace to grass.
“The constant attacks on teachers by education officials, threats of dismissal, government austerity measures and the evil of poverty have cumulatively created anxiety and uncertainty among teachers.”
Zhou said Zimbabwean teachers were commemorating their day “on empty stomachs, unable to pay school fees for their children, unable to report for work due to incapacitation, and unable to wear decent clothes and live in homes with minimal comfort”.
He added, “As we mourn on World Teachers’ Day 2021, we must take time to look at the future of the profession and the current status of teachers in Zimbabwe.”
The firebrand trade unionist said the teaching profession “has lost its lustre, and teachers are greatly incapacitated and their voices, muzzled”.