By Takavafira Zhou.
Harare, Zimbabwe. (News of The South) –
The initial retention of Dr Dokora as Minister of Primary and Secondary Education had erased all our hopes and liberties. Despair and disillusionment were the diet of teachers for 24 hours during which Dr Dokora was basking in his ministerial post, and ‘Kutonga kwaro gamba’ was never heard in teachers’ homes as it was replaced by darkness of ‘kurwadza kwaro gamba.’ It is within this framework that Ptuz warmly welcomes the ray of hope ushered in through the appointment of Professor Mavima as Minister of Primary and Secondary Education.
We are aware that Professor Mavima has injured the trust from teachers on two occasions during his deputisation to Dokora. He reportedly (May 2017) called teachers drunkards and threatened to dismiss some. An investigation into a few cases of drunkenness and unprecedented increase of suicide cases among teachers would have helped the learned Professor to appreciate the increase of stress among teachers and their students because of the commandist approach of Dokora and the evil of poverty. On another occasion (Senate debate, 9 June 2016, Senate Hansard vol. 25, No.55) Prof Paul Mavima argued against teachers’ vacation leave and payment of teachers during school holidays, erroneously positing that teaching “is seasonal just like tobacco industry … and just like the sugar industry in Chiredzi and Triangle.” Callous and unfortunate as this may be, we hope the learned Prof was trying to emulate his boss Dokora in educational vandalism and we are prepared to let by-gone days be by-gone days, by opening a new leaf and new thwa of educational direction informed by broad consultation and engagement, logical disputation and domestication of international best practices.
The immediate task of the Minister is to restore hope in Zimbabwe’s quality public education, empower teachers, and respect their professional freedom. There is certainly need to provide a broad and balanced curriculum that can impart life skills in order to transform Zimbabwe into a leading processing and manufacturing hub of agricultural and mineral based products as opposed to Dokora’s current constricted, acidic and anarchic curriculum that stifles talents of learners. The hap hazardous overloaded muddling and meddling tasks and projects have added to the confusion in schools, and so has been the dereliction of duty by ceding funding of ministerial workshops to schools and teachers. The blending of STEAM and STEM theory with practical life experiences from an early age is important if we are to provide functional education that can assist students beyond the classroom.
The empowerment of teachers emerged as a priority when the United Nations adopted the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal for Education (SDG4) which pledges to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality [Public] education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” The roadmap for the new agenda, the Education 2030 Framework for Action, highlights the fact that teachers are fundamental for equitable and quality education and, as such, must be “adequately trained, recruited and remunerated, motivated and supported within well-resourced, efficient and effectively governed systems.” It is, therefore, imperative for teachers to enjoy professional independence, freedom and the tools needed to deliver quality education, which must take cognisance of learners’ circumstances, needs and expectations. The independence, autonomy and self-regulatory mode of the Teaching Professions Council and not threatened, stifled and appendaged to the line ministry as Dokora envisaged.
Our role as Ptuz is to complement government efforts in building a credible education system in Zimbabwe that must be the basis of peace, democracy and sustainable development. Our service, energy and expertise are at the disposal of the Minister, but we implore the minister that as Ptuz we will always be brutal with the truth in advancing and defending the interests of teachers, learners and the nation at large. Together, we can ensure that all children have the opportunity to dream their dreams and achieve them. We can put the public back into the public education. We can help our public schools become centres of their communities, secure a voice and respect for those closest to the classroom (teachers), and fulfill public education’s purpose as a propeller of our economy, an anchor of democracy and a gateway to ethnic, social and economic justice.
For our children, we must
For our profession, we must
For our posterity, we must
For our nation, we must
Viva Ptuz viva
Dr Takavafira Zhou – President
Raymond Majongwe – SG
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