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President Speaking to the Union: Safety, incapacitation and Pass rates

14 May 2021

Cdes, members of the union I hope this correspondence finds you well. I write to you at a time when the conditions of service continue to deteriorate and the employer continues to renege on her responsibility of ensuring that Educators serve in an environment that is conducive and are well remunerated. It is encouraging though, to note that in the past week legislators from various political parties have added their voices in the fight for a decent wage and improvement of conditions of service for Educators and we as a union will continuously engage with all progressives in the fight for decent wages.

The Union is rolling up a programme of action to defend and protect Educators from the Covid-19 pandemic. This week we published the monitoring report on compliance to Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs. 90% of public schools that were sampled were not adhering to SOPs and our schools are potential super spreaders of the Corona virus. Starting from this morning members of the National Executive Council, NEC will be deployed in Mbare-Hatfield district to do workplace visits and assessments on the state of compliance to the set Standard Operating Procedures on Covid-19 and this is of particular importance as it relates to the safety of Educators. In addition, the NEC during the school visits will discuss amongst other things but not limited to, incapacitation crisis, compliance to occupational health and safety, availability of PPE’s, training and equipping Educators with knowledge to deal with the pandemic. This process will cascade to all other provinces and districts and will also serve as an interface and consultative platform where any other issue that pertains to the welfare of Educators can be addressed between the union leadership and the membership.

Cdes, it is disheartening to note that violence against Educators continues unabated at workstations across the country. The violence, political or otherwise is unfortunate and should be condemned. We continue with our safe schools’ initiative fighting for the safety of Educators and learners in our schools. We received reports that teachers from Mutoko district were forced to attend a Zanu Pf political party meeting, this is regrettable and we urge government to take all steps necessary in fighting this scourge of violence that is becoming frequent in our schools. If this ensuing crisis is not promptly addressed, it will pose a serious threat to the quality of public education which is already facing a myriad of challenges and will have a negative impact on societal development.

We also continue to stand in solidarity with our members who are being unfairly targeted and persecuted for no reason. This past week our member J Moyo from Matabeleland North province added to the growing list of members that are being hauled before disciplinary hearings and our Deputy Secretary General, DSG Cde Masiiwa was summoned to court for a case emanating from August 2019, the state did not have a record of the case. The DSG will appear in court again on 18 may 2021. This shows the growing attack on unionism and this is even sad realizing that we are still commemorating workers month. We will avail all resources available, manpower and otherwise in defending and standing in solidarity with all our members and in the spirit of unionism we continue to hold dear the principle of “Injure One, Injure All”.

Last week various developments took place but it is our view as the union that the Zimsec results are a very important development that happened which we can look at and help interpret our present situation.

The decline in pass rate to 24.8%, does not come as a surprise to us due to the disruptions caused by Covid-19 and government’s negligence that saw teachers not reporting for work due to incapacitation. It is grossly unfortunate that government did not come with a solid plan on addressing matters that dealt with how to recover time that had been lost due to Covid-19 lockdowns last year and this greatly impacted on the performance of learners. It is also disturbing to note that according to Zimsec statistics that there was a drop in 11% on the number of learners who wrote their O level exams in 2020 this is disheartening as it shows a reversal of the gains that have been made in ensuring that education is accessed by all, the drop in the number of candidates does not reflect the students population in Zimbabwe but instead shows how poor planning on the part of policymakers has sidelined access to education for some sections of society.

To this end ARTUZ commends the efforts made by learners and teachers who gave their all in preparing and writing examinations under these difficult conditions, more credit to learners and teachers in rural areas who despite an acute lack of resources continue to give their all to Zimbabwe’s education. Rural schools continue to be the hardest hit as minimum effort has been made overtime to address their lack. We continuously call for results not to be made a contest between rural and urban schools as the uneven performance has got nothing to do with the quality of learners or teachers but the distribution of resources and learning materials. In this vein we therefore call for an equitable funding formula by government to address the disparity in resources between rural and urban schools. An education equalization fund should be introduced to address resource shortages in rural schools. A rural retention and attraction allowance for rural teachers should also be introduced to attract and retain the best teachers in rural schools.

We also note with concern the continued poor results in Mathematics and Science subjects. Uptake of these subject is also low. We call upon government to work on a realistic framework of addressing this challenge as these subjects are crucial in national development into a modern state.

We also like to call upon Zimsec to look into various alternative models of standardized models of continued assessment in all subjects and look at examinations as a process not an event as that will give an opportunity to every learner to realize their ultimate best and also live the principle of leaving no student behind. The recently introduced continuous assessment should be reinforced with improved teacher remuneration and quality assessment.

Cdes, our rallying fight for better wages and conditions of service continues unabated and we will be giving you timely updates on any developments that would have occurred between our engagements with the employer and all our actions will be informed by the views of teachers as this fight requires collective effort. For now, we remain incapacitated and will only be reporting for duty at most twice a week and at least once a week on Mondays and Tuesdays.

May we all continue to observe the WHO set guidelines in the face of COVID19.

Towards Victory.

Shinga Mushandi!

Viva ARTUZ VIVA!

Fighting for pro-poor education.

Comradely

Obert Masaraure

ARTUZ President

obertmasaraure@gmail.com

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