Chaos as schools reopen

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THERE was chaos at most schools yesterday and headmasters had a torrid time as they welcomed back three more grades —Grade Six, Form Three and Five students — in the absence of striking teachers, forcing them to
send the learners back home early, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the country’s educators are on a crippling industrial action which they embarked on in September when the first batch of examination classes opened. The teachers are demanding improved salaries.

Early this month, Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema said about 29 percent of teachers had
been reporting for duty countrywide, and said this was enough to see learners being taught effectively.

With the second batch comprising classes that will sit for public examinations next year starting classes yesterday, this put a further strain on headmasters who have been manning the schools on their own.

Director of communications and advocacy in the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Taungana Ndoro, told the Daily News that the government was still compiling a report on the situation at the 9 600
schools countrywide.

“We are waiting for statistics from our teams. Remember we have about 9 600 schools countrywide, therefore, we need to look at the forest and not a tree in the forest. What you have observed in Harare might not be the
same situation prevailing across the length and breadth of the country,” Ndoro said.

When the Daily News crew visited some schools in Harare, including Glen View 1 and Glen View 2 secondary schools, Highfield High and Kuwadzana 2 high schools there were no teachers in the classrooms and those who were in school were not doing anything.

At Glen View 2 and 3 secondary schools, for example, learners who started school at 8am had been dismissed by 11am without attending classes.

A non-academic staff member at Glen View 2 Secondary School told the Daily News on condition of anonymity that
the learners had been dismissed early because they were vandalising school property.

“They are difficult to manage so the earlier they go home, the better. It saves property from destruction because that is all they are doing. The headmaster, his deputy and at times the senior master, cannot manage them on
their own, especially now that form threes and lower sixth learners are back,” said the worker.

At the same time, some boarding schools are allowing parents to take their children home. This comes amid allegations by teachers that the government was spying on them, with Labour minister Paul Mavima accused
of finding his way into a WhatsApp group by educators — “Teachers Can’t Breathe”.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said he expected their
employer to be sensitive to their plight.

“I know that Mavima somehow managed to get into the Teachers Can’t Breathe WhatsApp group with the help of some of the administrators, but we view that as an act of cowardice by both the minister and those he is working
with.

“Intimidation is an archaic way of dealing with issues; dialogue is the only solution. We expect a response from President Emmerson Mnangagwa after we petitioned him.

He is the highest authority in the land and we look forward to a lasting solution,” Majongwe said. Mavima’s mobile was not reachable to get his comment regarding the teachers’ WhatsApp group.

Eight teachers’ unions have petitioned Mnangagwa requesting a meeting with him over their conditions of service.

“Your Excellency, in light of the prevailing situation in the education sector and teachers’ incapacitation, we want to plead with you to intervene and save the education sector from total collapse and capacitate teachers so that
they can report for duty.

“As a united front of teachers’ unions, we want to take this opportunity to request for a meeting with
you, Your Excellency, at your earliest, most convenient time and behest.

“That rare opportunity will put you into the picture of the real situation in the education sector. It is our prayer that this petition will be treated with the urgency it deserves because education is the bedrock of the development of any nation and is the mother of all professions,” the unions said.

Some of the unions who signed the petition include PTUZ, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Tuz), and the
Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ).

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