HARARE – Zimbabwe’s rural teachers said this week that while government had made strides in modernizing the education system through the education amendment bill of 2018, the bill was still silent about the teachers’ welfare.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said teachers were living under deplorable conditions.
“ARTUZ notes the strides made by government in modernising our system through the education amendment bill of 2018. We note the thrust of improving accessibility of education through the emphasis of state funded basic education,” the labour body said.
The union however, raised concern on the sidelining of the teachers’ welfare.
“Both the existing education act and the 2018 bill are silent on the teachers welfare. Rural teachers are living in disused tobacco barns, drinking water from rivers, walk up to 30km to workstations and are vulnerable to political victimization,” said the union in a statement.
ARTUZ called on government to cater for the welfare of teachers beyond salaries paid.
“Modern education is hinged on proficiency, motivation and independence of teachers,” the rural teachers said.
Meanwhile, the teachers also indicated that learners in the rural areas were being discriminated when it came to accessing education.
“The schools are either in bad shape or are completely not available,” said Artuz.
The teachers board indicated that in terms of accessibility, acceptability, adaptability and quality (AAAQ) rural education was always found wanting.
Citing section 75 of the constitution the rural teachers noted that right to basic education is guaranteed.
“Introducing state funded basic education alone is not enough to deal with challenges of the AAAQ’s. The state should further set up a model of constructing modern infrastructure in rural schools and retaining and attracting competent teachers in the same areas.
“The Act (Education) should further provide for the setting up of an education equalization fund. Such a fund should be used to upgrade the facilities in the substandard schools,” ARTUZ said in a statement.
Rural teachers are also calling for the non-politicization of school facilities, learners and teachers.
“Political parties have also consistently upset the school ecosystem by imposing their toxic intentions in our schools. The ZANU PF party for example stands accused of frog marching learners to rallies, forcing teachers to fund political processes and abusing school property in pursuit of private political intentions,” the union said.