Pupils turned away as teachers abscond

HARARE- PUPILS from various schools were yesterday turned away after “incapacitated” teachers resolved to attend duty for three days per week.

NewsDay Weekender gathered that parents were ordered to withdraw their children from schools, especially in Harare, as teachers did not report for duty.

Teachers unions vowed that their members would not attend classes until government addressed their concerns. Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the ministry was aware of reports that teachers were not attending classes.

He said to maintain order in schools, government had tasked “devoted” teachers to attend to learners whose instructors had absconded.

“The (Education) ministry will not be deterred from its mandate of providing inclusive and quality education by perceived threats of job action,” Ndoro said.

“If the employees who are under our ministry are not performing as expected, then we will advise the employer.

“There are only a third of teachers who are members of the teachers unions and the rest have no representatives. Just like any other employer, we will take the necessary measures against those teachers who are not reporting for duty.”

But a boarding school head who spoke on condition of anonymity told NewsDay Weekender that it was difficult to control and monitor pupils when teachers were not reporting for duty.

“It is difficult to enforce the wearing of masks, sanitising and social distancing among pupils single-handedly as teachers are on go-slow,” he said.

“That is the reality on the ground. The situation is better for day schools as pupils can go to their homes, but here at boarding schools, we have to take care of them.”

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure said government should address the incapacitation crisis, as it was likely that school would close due to the bleak COVID-19 situation in schools.

“Teachers are not teaching. When they show up at the workplace, they are simply logging in and staying in,” he said. 

“When Artuz members go to schools on Monday, they are going to protest on campus. The COVID-19 scare is soon going to force schools to close; we should find solutions to the incapacitation crisis.”

Government’s efforts to resolve the impasse reached a deadlock last week after the civil servants rejected a 70% pay rise offer. Government also threatened to revoke salaries for civil servants who were not reporting for work in protest over poor salaries.

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