By Bulawayo Correspondent
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says learning in public schools has virtually come to a stand-still because of bickering over the recent suspension of teachers for failing to attend lessons due to incapacitation.
The government last month announced the suspension of scores of teachers who failed to report for duty when the schools opened for the first term in February.
The suspensions were however declared illegal by the courts and but ministry of Primary and Secondary Education anyhow proceeded with the suspensions.
“The situation in schools in bad. The ministry of education has virtually turned the term into a wasted period. The stand-off has reduced schools to witch hunting grounds and the impasse has practically affected the learning and teaching in schools. Teachers are daily verbally asked to write letters to explain where they were from the 7th to the 22nd of February,” PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou told Newzimbabwe.com in an interview Monday.
Zhou also complained that ministry of education officials have been harassing teachers who failed to report for duty since last month.
“Firstly, teachers were incapacitated from 7 to 22 February, there after Ministry turned to witch hunting trying to punish incapacitated teachers. Sadly, issues to deal with salaries and conditions of service do not follow under the purview of Ministry but the Public Service Commission (PSC),” he said.
“As PTUZ, we notified PSC and copied line Ministry about the incapacitation of teachers, an issue that PSC and government acknowledged as they only advised teachers to report for work after pay day. Surprisingly Ministry is trying to jump the law and venture into a terrain they have no locus standi.”
Zhou said the teachers were also not happy with the informal way which PSC was communicating with the teachers.
“We have advised teachers that in PSC verbal instructions attract verbal responses, a situation that has led to a stand -off. School heads have been instructed to verbally charge teachers, and unions are reminding school heads and Ministry that there are no verbal charges in PSC, and that Ministry has no right to interfere with labour issues as it is not the employer. Learning has come to a stand- still as emphasis has been placed on charging teachers, yet teachers have no case to answer as they followed the law of the land.”