By Staff Reporter
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says government should resist the temptation to open schools before putting in place the requisite Covid-19 safety measures.
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said anything in the contrary would endanger both teachers and learners.
This follows recent twitter comments by Information Ministry permanent secretary Nick Mangwana suggesting cabinet deliberated on the reopening of Zimbabwean schools last Tuesday before resolving to defer this by two weeks.
Zimbabwean schools closed on December 18 after briefly opening last year.
Only students writing their final ZimSec examinations were allowed to attend school in January.
In a statement, Zhou said the teachers’ group was appalled by government’s lack of energy towards preparing a safe environment for resumption of learning.
“A considerable number of people, academics, government officials and parents want schools to be unconditionally opened soon,” he said.
“While as teachers, we are ready to open schools any time, we are worried that there is virtually no preparation to open schools except enrolment and collection of exorbitant Form 1 fees.
“Failure to plan is planning to fail as evidenced by disastrous Grade 7 results for 2020.”
Zhou added, “It is our humble submission that a myriad of measures must be put in place before schools can successfully open.
“Fundamentally, opening of schools must be a product of government engagement with stakeholders particularly, teachers and parents.
“There is a need to collectively agree on a sound roadmap that has support for teachers as implementers of reforms in schools.”
The trade union leader said it remained prudent for government to engage teacher unions as a matter of urgency.
He lamented claims by Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro that there was already a programme unilaterally designed to accelerate school learning.
“Such command and control antics and homelitic bellicose are unproductive in a terrain that calls for engagement and logical disputation to enhance successful implementation of educational reforms.
“It is also prudent to pay teachers a living wage before schools open so that they are motivated, capacitated, dynamic, innovative and enthusiastic.
“The time for the restoration of the salaries of teachers’ purchasing power parity to US$520-US$550, is now.
“This way we can ensure that once schools open, there would be meaningful teaching and learning in schools.
“There is an urgent need for meaningful social dialogue in order to promote industrial harmony and productivity in schools.
“Collective begging with the illegal Apex Council whose leaders’ hands are greased by PSC into firefighting modus operandi would produce industrial disharmony and disrupt productivity in schools.”
Zhou said there was need for government intervention over exorbitant fees being demanded by schools for Form 1 enrolment.