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EDUCATION UNDER SIEGE

10 January 2021

By Robson (Nikita) Chere

The recent amplified assault on the teaching profession in Zimbabwe is a genuine cause for worry as we have entered the new year, already 2021 was appearing gloomy and dark after a horrific 2020 that was characterized by state sponsored violence towards political social and economic activists, salaries that fell way below the poverty datum line, unsafe working conditions especially during a time when Covid19 is wrecking- havoc. The regime in Zimbabwe is exhibiting a deadly and suicidal character towards the welfare of teachers in Zimbabwe, not only are they not concerned about the welfare of their employees but they are displaying an attitude that can only be defined along the patterns of wanting to see the country collapse under the weight of poverty and lack of progress. It is clear for all to see that the year 2020 capped a very difficult decade for teachers in Zimbabwe, the profession has lost value not only in the eyes of society but in all essence the dignity and character of the profession has been eroded. It has now become a crime to demand a living wage in Zimbabwe as evidenced by the response of the state on Trade Union Leaders and all dissenting voices that are being crushed ruthlessly everyday for daring to speak out against any form of injustice as has been highlighted in the recently launched Justice and Labour Index by the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe ,the incarceration of Sheila Chisirimunhu defines madness on a very grand scale and defies common sense. Zimbabwe has now become a fully fledged dictatorship were human rights and worker rights are no longer a concern of the government and are violated with serious impunity that one would be forgiven to think that Zimbabwe is still stuck in the days of mon

archies. Teachers declared Incapacitation not for the love of resistance but as a genuine clarion call and cry for the government to heed their concerns but the response from the government was one of ignorance and lack of sympathy for the teachers hence the need to amplify the fight towards the realization of the teaching profession as one of the core pillars of the nation. The teaching profession is now ripe for a revolution within itself, the status quo is not normal and teachers should stop normalizing the abnormal for it creates a serious problem even for posterity. The problem emanates from a disorganized and disengaged government, in the face of the Covid19 pandemic the government placed teachers and learners at risk by prematurely opening schools and in light of that failed to even provide basic protection to involved parties and cases in schools started rising with alarming speed and now with the second wave of Covid19 it seems like they have learnt nothing and forgotten everything as they have sent teachers and students back to hot spots with the very same conditions as were there in the first instance. Teachers need to organize themselves, resist and fight such tyranny as it is against not only their interests but that of the nation, the mandate of the teacher is not that of personal interference but of socio-economic and political justice as teachers are guardians and custodians of the country through their work in molding the nation and setting the path of society. It is now high time that teachers should all openly agree that the government does not care about them at all because action indeed speaks louder than words and now especially considering the whispers coming from the ministry of finance about salary reduction and it boggles the mind what are they seeking to reduce when the current salaries are way below what the teacher should be earning Indeed change can be slow and ponderous and in most instances very tiresome and exhausting but when things come to a head it can be sudden and cataclysmic toppling hitherto unshakeable systems, what is required is an element of radicalism, sheer individual determination, powerful drive and direct confrontation with what needs to changed, for the longer teachers suffer in silence the more the suffering escalates but the more bold the approach the more determined the will the better the results and it all begins with changing the mentality. The ministry of Education and the government of Zimbabwe have failed the nation in regards to education and for that they need to be reminded of their mandate and be compelled to change their modus operandi. Government is responsible for the rising numbers of COVID19 cases in schools and this is clearly evident by their command approach in forcing schools and examination centers to open when the health of teachers and learners is at risk. The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council has basically created infection hubs in examination marking centers through calling teachers to mark exams at a time like this and this has seen teachers being exposed and infected and, in some cases, succumbing to the deadly virus. There is absolutely no need to put lives at risk in such a way and every loss will be regrettable because it was avoidable, the government has failed to provide basic protection against COVID19 to teachers and students and this has a danger of cascading down to society as the teachers will go back into society and risk infecting their families. It is now the responsibility of every teacher to return home as their lives and that of their families matter more than the allowances, they are risking themselves for. #SaveOurEducationZW By Comrade Robson ‘Nikita’ Chere Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe National Secretary General robohchere@gmail.com twitter: @robohchere +263 775 643 192

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