12 January 2021
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ launched a spirited #SaveOurEducationZW campaign in 2020. The campaign is aimed at rescuing the education sector from the crisis it is trapped in. The campaign is not a reactionary response to the education crisis but a systematic response anchored on our education blue print, “ADAPT.” ADAPT is both a call to action to citizens and an alternative policy strategy which we are tabling to government for adoption in the educations sector.
Adequate funding for education, Devolved and democratic education management, Addressing Curriculum deficits and challenges, Promoting labour justice for education workers and Technological and infrastructure development are the five pillars of our ADAPT education blueprint.
Adequate Funding for education.
Zimbabwe’s budgetary allocation towards education has consistently been below 13% under the government of President Emerson Mnangagwa. Over 80% of this meagre allocation is consumed by wages. It follows that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has limited capacity to engage in capital investments for education. This comes at a time when Zimbabwean schools are battling with infrastructure deficits and we have a shortage of almost 3 000 schools. Learners are also failing to access to education because of failing to pay fees and levies.
Government is mandated to fund basic education in section 75 of the constitution.
The Dakar declaration on education to which Zimbabwe is a signatory benchmarks budgetary allocation for education at 20%. The Sub Saharan Average budgetary allocation for education stands at 16.0%. Zimbabwe is therefore under investing in education. The little resources allocated to the education sector are at times lost due to corruption as captured in the Auditor’s report of 2018, USD 6 090 000 meant for procuring books and other materials for the new curriculum was diverted. Recently the education Ministry also received ZWL 600 million for safe schools opening but the amount never brought expected changes.
Parents are now the major funders of education through tuition fees and levies. However massive corruption is alleged in the manner School Development Committees, SDC are managing funds.
Because of underfunding our education system is not ready to withstand the challenge of emergencies such as COVID19 and other natural disasters.
ACTION: We invite citizens to join us under the #SaveOurEducationZW campaign to advocate for more government funding for education and accountability in expenditure of resources allocated to education. To that end we shall be engaged in budget tracking for resources allocated to education sector.
We further call for free basic education in line with the dictates of the constitution.
The Union is agitating for an education in emergencies charter to avoid disruption of education during emergencies.
ARTUZ will conduct trainings for SDCs to improve their financial management skills. The Union is further creating Parents Teachers Associations, PTAs to play an oversight role on how schools spent fees paid by parents.
Devolved and Democratic education management.
The responsibility of managing education is fully entrusted to permanent secretary and the line Minister. Provinces and districts are only there to implement policy directives dictated from Harare and have no role generating policies compatible for their regions. The curriculum is a one size fit all with no regard for the varied education needs of our diverse communities.
Education management is highly politicized with the toxic ZANU PF politics taking precedence over learning. Education resources are diverted to support the ruling party’s private political interests as we rightly raised in our safe schools court application before Justice Mafusire at Masvingo High Court in 2018.
ACTION: Advocate for devolved education management with regions being empowered to make own policy initiatives and add regional learning goals to the national template. We further call for the banning of partisan politics in the education ecosystem so that our schools are safe.
Addressing Curriculum deficits and Teacher Capacity development.
The current education curriculum still has gaps of both content and implementation. Our curriculum still fall short on addressing civic education goals among other learning areas. Some learning areas in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are still to be fully implemented because of resource challenges. Continuous assessment remains a dream because of shortage of resources.
Teachers are failing engage in continuous development because of stringent conditions imposed on unpaid study leave. Our teachers are therefore not up to speed with modern teaching methods and content in their teaching areas.
ACTION: Advocacy for the annual review of the curriculum to update it to the national educational needs and the skills needs of the 21st century. We further invite citizens to help us push for flexible and fully paid study leave for teachers.
Promoting labour justice for education workers.
ARTUZ’s labour justice index explores in detail the structural challenges impeding the realization of labour justice in the teaching profession. Teachers are highly demotivated because of underpayment. Rural teachers are the worst affected as they work under extremely difficult conditions. The demotivated teachers are also victimized by the ruling ZANU PF party, being accused of pursuing a regime change agenda. Our teachers therefore fail to deliver quality services to our learners under these difficult circumstances.
ACTION: ARTUZ will continue to research and document the violations of teachers’ rights. We call upon citizens to join us as we advocate for the compliance with the provisions of section 65 of Zimbabwe’s constitution. We further call for the introduction of a substantial rural retention and attraction allowance. The allowance should at least be 75% of basic salary.
Technological and infrastructure deficits.
The ZimStats Information and Communication Technology, ICT census on Access and Use by Education institutions report of 2017 paints a gloomy picture on access to ICT. Access to computers, electricity and the internet is below 10% in our schools. This is at a time when the bulk of learning materials are now readily available online. It is also at a time when most countries are switching to online remote learning in the face of the COVID19 pandemic.
Access to a library, laboratory and a proper classroom remains a dream for the majority of learners in rural areas and unregulated urban settlements. This infrastructure has to be developed for our learners.
Zimbabwe still has a shortage of almost 3000 schools, as a result learners either walk for long distances to access education or are overcrowded in under resourced schools.
ACTION: ARTUZ invites citizens to join the call for an Education equalization fund for education, the fund should receive funding from our mineral wealth and other revenue flows. This fund will be channeled towards technological and infrastructure development in schools.
The #SaveOurEducationZW campaign is not just a reactionary move to the education crisis but a comprehensive response to the deep rooted crisis.
ARTUZ invites you to join us every last Friday of the month in 2021 as we act for education under the #SaveOurEducationZW.
ARTUZ INFORMATION DEPARTMENT
+263775438618/776129336/775643192 Follow us on Tweeter: @ARTUZ_teachers Like our Facebook page: Rural Teachers Union in Zimbabwe www.ruralteachers.co.zw