Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
THE Government has employed 5 300 teachers and an additional 3 000 are set to be recruited as it implements measures to reduce class sizes in compliance to Covid-19 mitigation regulations.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education recently came up with Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) to guide the safe reopening of schools as learning institutions adopt a new normal in view of the global pandemic.
The measures include reducing class sizes to a maximum of 35 pupils to decongest classrooms in adherence to social distancing requirements.
Government adopted a three-phased approach to schools reopening. Public examination classes opened last month while Grade 6, Form Three and Form Five classes are set to return to class next Monday before the rest of the pupils reopen on November 9.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema said Government is working to ensure that all trained teachers are employed.
He was responding to legislators during the National Assembly’s Question and Answer session last Wednesday.
Legislators had raised concerns over developments in the education sector regarding teachers’ incapacitation declaration and whether learners will be adequately prepared to write final examinations starting in December.
Minister Mathema said Government is doing its best to ensure normalcy returns to schools, noting that not all teachers declared incapacitation.
“Indeed, within the last week, we have employed 5 300 new teachers and we will continue employing teachers so that every person who is trained as a teacher anywhere in Zimbabwe gets a job. After all, the Covid-19 environment demands that indeed we employ more teachers because of social distancing. In addition to that, we still need at least 3 000 more schools in Zimbabwe. So, every teacher who is not employed will be employed in our schools,” said Minister Mathema.
“All schools have school heads, senior teachers and those teachers who have not gone on strike. Like I said earlier on, we are employing more teachers. So, as far as the ministry is concerned, we do the best that we can to make sure that those children who are in school are taught.”
He said not all schools have teachers boycotting classes and in addressing this challenge, Government will prioritise neglected learners.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima last week said Government remains committed to addressing civil servants’ welfare issues.
He said Government has offered a 40 percent salary increase and extended to December the US$75 Covid-19 allowance as proof of its commitment to address remuneration issues for employees despite workers rejecting the Government’s offer.
“There have been two sessions and, in both cases, the Apex Council did not accept the Government offer. So, the Government team went back to consult with the principals. That consultation is still taking place. We are hoping that there will be another round of negotiations next week. What we have said in a rather informal meeting that we had with teachers’ unions – it was the Hon Minister of Primary and Secondary Education and I. It was not a negotiating meeting but more to understand fundamentally what the teachers’ issues are. So, we have that understanding and the Government team is going to be appropriately instructed in the next round of negotiations,” said Prof Mavima.
The minister said salary negotiations are also guided by the national economic environment as Government wants teachers to be reasonable to the realities on the ground.
He said it was Government’s hope that the national budget will put to rest issues to do with civil servants’ remuneration.
“We see a more substantial change in the package for teachers and for the civil servants, coming under the new budget that is already being considered,” he said. – @nqotshili.