(Last Updated on January 8, 2021 by GERALD NCUBE)
HARARE – Progressive Teacher’s Union of Zimbabwe(PTUZ) President Dr Takavafira Zhou said the Covid-19 situation in schools was becoming a serious challenge and threat to students and teachers especially those who are currently involved in the writing of national examinations across the country.
This comes after government reintroduced level four lockdown but said examination classes should continue with their exams as scheduled.
“Covid-19 is running riot in our schools, just two days ago more than 50 Heads tested positive. Several school pupils and teachers have also tested positive. And as a nation we seem not to have a comprehensive plan to react to Covid-19 so the crisis is that we cannot come up with a contingent plant to ensure there is health and safety in schools, to make sure the health and safety of pupils and teachers is catered for in schools…
“And in this crisis, those who want the services of teachers must be prepared to also invest in prioritising the health and safety of teachers. This is where we are, where teachers can not continue to go to school in order to die,” said Dr Zhou.
Dr Zhou said the safety and health of teachers were not being prioritised hence the calls for teachers to stay at home.
“The safety and health of teachers in Zimbabwe is not prioritised and as such, the only way forward is for teachers to stay in their respective homes until the government can come up with a contingent plan to ensure that their lives are protected particularly in this time when pupils are writing their examinations.
He also bemoaned the fact that teachers and students were not subjected to compulsory testing before going back to schools.
Adding that the government seemed to have this belief that teachers and pupils should just go to school then get tested when they are now ill.
“We are saying prevention is better than cure, the government must ensure that we have adequate testing kits so that we test teachers, pupils and ancillary staff before the congregation in schools.”
The PTUZ president reiterated the plight faced by teachers in relation to their salaries which have been eroded.
“Teachers were earning a salary of about US$520, that salary was reduced to the current equivalent of US$140. So there has been the eroding of teacher’s purchasing ability and teachers wanted the government to ensure that they restore the salaries that teachers earned as far as back as October 2018.
He said prices of goods and services such as transport and accommodation were going up hence it only made sense that teachers also demand their salaries be increased.