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ARTUZ Message on International Day of Education

25 January 2021

“Education is a human right with immense power to transform. On its foundation rest the cornerstone of freedom, democracy and

sustainable human development.” Koffi Annan *THEME: RECOVER AND REVITALIZE EDUCATION FOR THE COVID-19 GENERATION* Literacy is a shift from misery to hope and in this framework the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe joins the rest of the world in celebrating and honouring International Day of Education. The day comes as the world is battling a devastating and catastrophic pandemic Covid19 that has shifted and changed the modus operandi of almost every aspect of how society is operating. Prior to Covid19 changing the shape of society, education globally was already in a serious crisis especially with regards in failure to achieving SDG4, the World Bank denotes that around 53% of young people in low and middle- income countries like Zimbabwe live in ‘learning poverty’. As we mark this day as a nation it is important to ask key fundamental questions with concern to the quality of education, the role of society in safeguarding the education sector, the role of government in guaranteeing quality and accessible education. Education in the focus of Zimbabwe has been in the intensive Care Unit for a number of years and the direction that it is currently going through is one of destruction and catastrophe where the likelihood reflects an education sector that is dying slowly. Covid19 despite it’s negative impacts on education globally has exposed the glaring difficulties that the education sector has been undergoing in Zimbabwe, physical school closure at the beginning of 2020 created a lot of problems as there were no alternative ways of teaching and the majority of students especially in rural areas where ARTUZ does most of it’s work the results have been disastrous. The majority of students and teachers in rural areas do not have reliable access or have zero access to internet accessibility because of lack of internet infrastructure and the decision by the Ministry of Education to proceed with examinations despite loss of learning is a serious violation of the right to education and the idea of leave no child behind. The beneficiary of the proposed e-learning model have been the children of elites who have unlimited access to internet, the ignorance shown by the Ministry in refusing to acknowledge and listening to advice on alternative ways of teaching and making education accessible to everyone is also a strong factor in the current crisis the nation is facing. Zimbabwe’s education is locked- in a crisis of under- funding, state repression and is now reeling under the devastating the impact of Covid19. ARTUZ is pushing an education plan under our adapt strategy, *A*- Adequate funding for education*D*- Devolved Democratic education management, *A*- Addressing curriculum deficits and Teacher capacity building.*P*- Promote labour justice for education workers.*T*- technological and infrastructure development. It is our firm view that if adopted the blue print will address the perennial unresolved structural challenges. In the short term we call for the cancelling of ongoing public examinations for the safety of learners and preserving credibility of our education system. The first step towards revitalising education for this current Covid19 generation is the setting up and creation of the Educational Equalisation Fund that should be the enzyme that bridges the gap between urban and rural schools with the intention of fostering balance with the level and quality of education. It is an undeniable fact that rural education has been suffering a lot and the situation has been made more worse by Covid19 induced lockdowns, schools have dilapidated or no infrastructures, there is no or unreliable electricity in most school districts, no proper internet infrastructure and hence the idea of e-learning will be construed as a structure of the elites. The equalisation fund will help in the setting up of internet infrastructure that will balance the scales in terms of accessing educational material and lessons. The logic of setting up and increasing Educational broadcasting should be a top priority as a step is less expensive and has a way of reaching even the most remote places and accessible to even those who cannot access internet. Conducting lessons in such a way is a reliable method and can improve quality of education and a step up can be taken of creating an educational channel sorely dedicated with providing educational lessons especially to children in Primary and Secondary Schools. Teacher Capacitation is also part of the concoction to create a sound and universal education sector in the face of Covid19, this capacitation comes with capacitating teachers financially to motivate them to provide quality services in a new normal environment, teachers in Zimbabwe are underpaid and undervalued and their situation has gone from bad to worse during Covid19 induced lockdowns. The other form of capacitation necessary is capacitating teachers in the form of improving their digital literacy expertise especially in conducting mass learning online. The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe has today the 25th of January 2021 marked the International by hosting a discussion with a number of opinion leaders under the theme, *Enhancing Access to Education in the face of COVID19: Digital Literacy, Remote learning and Home Schooling*The hope of ARTUZ is to see a balance in accessible education to the entire education sector and quality of education. *ARTUZ INFORMATION DEPARTMENT* +263775438618/776129336/775643192 Follow us on Twitter: @ARTUZ_teachers Like our Facebook page: Rural Teachers Union in Zimbabwe Website:www.ruralteachers.co.zw

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