WATCH: Rwanda’s Kagame Targets Zim Teachers

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By James Muonwa

RWANDA President Paul Kagame wants his government to recruit thousands of teachers from Zimbabwe to boost that country’s education system.

He made the remarks at the inaugural Rwanda Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference, a move that has set social media in frenzy with some professionals showing interest in working in the tiny central African nation.

A video clip captured by Rwanda Television, circulating on social media platforms shows Kagame saying he was keen on hiring Zimbabwean teachers.

“I heard the presentations made to us, very important things we can do together, what each country offers so on and so forth. I want to emphasize one thing. I think there is a deputy CEO of RDB (Rwanda Development Board) who mentioned in passing what Zimbabwe can offer in the area of education. He talked about equipment or something,” said Kagame.

“Before equipment, I want people,” said Kagame amid applause from the audience.

“I think Zimbabwe can offer us, good teachers. So, please work on that as a sense of urgency. You can find whatever number, you find of quality teachers, I think we can absorb.”

Zimbabwe teachers are currently demanding salary increases of up to US$550, but President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has refused to capitulate to the seemingly modest demands.

The crisis-hit education system is also in dire need of an optimum teacher-pupil ratio in order to match yesteryear standards that earned the country a high literacy rate, a teachers’ representative body has said.

In response to Kagame’s demands, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president, Obert Masaraure told said the export of teachers should be done at a later stage after satisfying teaching levels at local schools.

However, ARTUZ estimates Zimbabwe is short of 90 000 teachers.

Masaraure said while the offer by Kagame was welcome, Zimbabwe must first achieve optimum staffing levels in local schools before exporting skills to other countries.

“Zimbabwe’s education is in a crisis with teacher-pupil ratios as high as 1:120. We have a critical staff shortage of almost 90 000 teachers,” he said.

“If we were to recruit all unemployed teachers, we will still have a deficit. It is very much irresponsible for the government to export teachers now.”

“The government should craft a plan to stem the mass exodus of educators who are trekking to greener pastures.

“We should be focusing on a retention strategy. We are losing the best teachers on a daily basis. The government should review teacher salaries and become a competitive employer.”

He said the country must strive on achieving staff adequacy first, only then can it hire our teachers.

“An export initiative should then be worked out with teacher colleges to produce more teachers.”

As teachers mark World Teachers’ Day 2021 next week to be held under the theme ‘Teachers At The Heart of Education Recovery’, the education sector remains in the doldrums.

Staff morale is at an all-time low amid an impending protest by ARTUZ against compulsory Covid-19 vaccination for all teachers.

Foreign Minister Fredrick Shava is leading a 100 member delegation of business leaders from Zimbabwe for the Rwanda Zimbabwe Trade and Investment Conference, which kicked off in Kigali Monday and ended Thursday.

Minister of Industry Sekai Nzenza and Tourism Minister Nqobizitha Mangaliso Ndlovu also attended the conference.