Pupils idle as teachers stage sit-ins

The Chronicle

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter

PUPILS at public schools across Bulawayo are idle as some teachers are going to class but not teaching in defiance of a Government directive for them to resume duty.

Since schools opened last week on  Monday, some teachers and headmasters have not been reporting for duty, citing incapacitation.

Treasury subsequently announced a 20 percent salary increase for all civil servants plus an additional US$100 cash allowance, as well as school fees allowance for teachers among other non-monetary benefits.

Government has since suspended for three months without pay all those who have been absconding.

A visit to some schools around Bulawayo’s eastern and western suburbs yesterday revealed some pupils, both at primary and secondary schools, were playing on the sports fields during learning hours.

Others were seen making a beeline home, and they said teachers were either absent or some of those who were present were not teaching.

At Baines Primary School in North End; Lobengula Primary School in Mzilikazi; Mthombowesizwe Primary School in Entumbane; Intunta Primary School and Ihlathi High School in Tshabalala as well as Masotsha High School in Magwegwe North among others, children were playing outside class.

Some pupils who were interviewed by Chronicle said they had dismissed early because teachers were not teaching.

“There are no lessons at the school.

The teachers are there but they are just sitting in class and not teaching. So, I have decided to go home,” said a pupil at Lobengula Primary School in Mzilikazi.

A pupil at Mthombowesizwe Primary School in Entumbane suburb said they were told to go home after break time.

 “We learnt one subject. We then went for break time and then after that, the teacher asked us to pray and we were dismissed for the day,” said the pupil.

Because of the teachers absconding lessons, this has forced some parents with pupils who are in exam classes to resort to private lessons.

The news crew met a group of Form Two pupils at Ihlathi High School in Tshabalala who said they had dismissed themselves because teachers were not at school.

“When schools opened, we had no lessons because teachers hadn’t been there.

Up to today we haven’t had any lessons and we are on our way to do extra lessons, so that we can catch up,” said one of the pupils.

One parent from Sizinda suburb said some teachers at Intunta were on a go slow.

“The teachers have been coming, but the teaching from what my child is saying is not at the right level.

This has been the case since the opening of schools.

They are learning but as parents we aren’t happy that it’s not like last year,” said the parent.

In an interview yesterday, Dr Edson Badarai Head of Strategic Planning and Programme Management in the Public Service Commission (PSC) said the suspension of teachers stands.

“In terms of those who would have been suspended they will go through a disciplinary process; they are a different group.

There will be an investigation and they will go through. So, we are saying their suspension still stands.

Those who are not suspended and are continuing not to come to

work, their last date to continue like that, is February 22. If they get to that date, we deem them to have resigned,” said Dr Badarai.

“What it means is that there is a grace period.

Those reporting for duty but not teaching, will also be deemed to have resigned.

All those who have resigned and are occupying institutional accommodation are expected to vacate.”

In a statement earlier in the day, the PSC said teachers, headmasters and deputy heads who are not attending school, or attending but not teaching will be deemed to have resigned on February 22.

“All teachers, deputy heads and heads of schools who do not report for duty by Tuesday 22 February 2022 will be deemed to have resigned from the service.

Those reporting for duty but not teaching will also be deemed to have resigned.

All those who will have in that manner so resigned and are occupying institutional accommodation are expected to vacate the same with immediate effect,” said the PSC.

After the deadline, the PSC encouraged student teachers and university students to apply for teaching posts, to replace those who have resigned from their posts.

“Unemployed trained teachers, university and college graduates in the sciences, engineering, technical, vocational areas and other disciplines who are interested in joining the teaching profession should ensure that they are registered at the nearest district education offices as the recruitment process shall begin soon after the 22nd of February 2022,” read the statement.

Government, the PSC said, will work with those who show commitment in performing their duties. 

“Those deemed to have resigned shall not be eligible for this recruitment.

Government has taken the position that it will now work with those who demonstrate their commitment by performing their duties at all times to serve the nation.

In terms of Section 75 sub-section 4 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, concerning the right to education, the Government of Zimbabwe has already taken reasonable legislative and other measures, within the limits of the resources available to it, to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to education,” it said.

The statement said, Government is committed to improving the welfare of its workers and is concerned that teachers are absent from work, depriving children of their constitutional right.

Government, the statement said, will not tolerate behaviour that negatively impacts on an entire generation. 

“This behaviour on the part of some teachers is all the more distressing in view of the fact that it is coming at a time when learners have already lost more than a month of learning in 2022 alone due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and were therefore looking forward to the opportunity to catch up with their studies.

Such behaviour cannot be tolerated as it will have a lasting, negative impact on an entire generation,” said the statement.

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education updated Cabinet on the situation at both primary and secondary schools.

During the post Cabinet briefing on Tuesday, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet has instructed the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to take stern action against teachers and headmasters who have not reported for duty.

“Cabinet has noted with dismay the reported absenteeism by some teachers and headmasters. Of particular concern, is the alleged barring of some teachers from attending to their work as well as attendance by some teachers without delivering lessons,” said the Minister. 

“The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education has been instructed to take stern action in consultation with the Chairman of the Public Service Commission and the Ministers of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development; and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.

An appropriate statement on the matter will be issued by the Minister soonest.

Cabinet would like to commend those teachers who have continued to attend to their duties.” 

– Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi

Article Source: The Chronicle

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