The Sunday News
PUBLIC servants have an obligation to serve the public and to uphold the law. This is especially so in the field of education, on which the future well-being of the nation so depends.
When teachers decide to embark on a go slow or strike, the losers are the schoolchildren. We therefore believe teachers should consider other means to express their disgruntlements with their employer instead of downing tools.
This is not to be unsympathetic to the fact that teaching is a demanding and important profession. We believe teachers, like other workers, should be rewarded fairly, and we are glad the Government has committed to improving their conditions of service including all civil servants.
Schools opened on 28 September for public examination classes — Grade 7, Form 4 and Form 6, and there are reports that some teachers have opted to stay at home demanding an upward review of their salaries.
We note that teachers, just like all civil servants, were getting full salaries since the Covid-19-induced lockdown started at the end of March and now, six months down the line, they are demanding a salary hike and some are refusing to work. Is that fair to the employer? Is that fair to parents? Is that fair to pupils?
However, we believe parents and guardians will be comforted by the word from the Government that not all teachers are on strike and there are enough teachers reporting for duty. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema said an average of 29 percent of teachers have been reporting for duty countrywide, which he said was enough to prepare students for the impending public examinations. Minister Mathema acknowledged that teachers have their concerns, but said the low turnout was as a result of the phased reopening approach.
“It is correct that a number of teachers are not at work. On average about 29 percent are going to work.
“Remember only examination classes are back at school and those teachers going to work suffice the job at hand.
“The teachers have their concerns and Government is addressing them. I want to assure learners and parents that exams will go on as scheduled. Learning will not be disrupted. The first phase has resumed classes safely and we are now preparing for the next phase as well as putting in place measures to protect those already at school,” said Minister Mathema.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said Government held a meeting with teachers’ union representatives last Monday.
Prof Mavima said the economy was recording some positive stability and improvements on the macro-economic front which the country and the civil service cannot afford to disrupt by demands that torpedo the progression.
After last week’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa updated the public on schools and on the civil service salary negotiations.
“With regard to the reopening of schools the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is monitoring the situation and updating the Public Service Commission daily, while awaiting the outcome of the ongoing National Joint Negotiating Council talks.”