THE most vocal teachers’ union in Zimbabwe, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has only 386 members and its threats to refuse to invigilate the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) “O” and “A” Level examinations for
free won’t affect exams in any way, Government has said.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro added that another ‘vocal’ union, the Zimbabwe National Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ZINATU), has only 50 members countrywide.
The examinations are set to start today, but the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), the ARTUZ, the ZINATU and the Educators Union of Zimbabwe (EUZ) have declared that their members would not invigilate if government was not going to pay them for the service.
The country’s largest teachers’ union Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA), yesterday said it would attend a National Joint Negotiation Council meeting today, whose outcome would determine whether its members would withdraw their services from the ZIMSEC examination process.
Ndoro said that 82% of the teachers in the country were not affiliated to any union and would invigilate for free.
“All Zimbabweans understand that teaching is a noble profession and that our teachers, despite whatever union they represent, are selfless and always ready to go to any extent to help their learners. It gives them a great feeling of self-satisfaction when they see their learners achieve in life,” he said.
“However, in today’s world, the word ‘noble’ is misused by the likes of leaders of Artuz, Zinatu and the one-man-band EUZ. As for the second-largest teachers union in Zimbabwe, PTUZ, we respect that their teachers stretch themselves to help their learners without unreasonable expectation.
“They remain noble together with a host of non-unionised teachers that we are confident will invigilate exams with no immediate extra benefits because they are doing a noble profession.”
The withdrawal of invigilating services by teachers will have no impact as “anyone” could invigilate the examinations, Ndoro said. He added that genuine teachers should not derive motivation to perform their duties from salaries.
“We value all teachers who will not boycott invigilation as they are cognisant that their reward for the service is the happiness and satisfaction they will derive in being recognised by their learners even years after they benefited from their teaching and invigilation. These two aspects — delight and recognition — are possible only if teachers are committed to their profession at a level that is beyond the influence of remuneration.”
Ndoro recently scoffed at claims by ARTUZ and ZINATU unions that they had mobilized a nation-wide teachers’ strike and 92% of their members had not reported for duty.
“We have 94.08% of teachers reporting for duty and that is very encouraging, with about 145 000 teachers in the country against ARTUZ (386) and ZINATU (50), who form a combined membership of 436 which is roughly 0.3% of the teacher establishment,” Ndoro.
The revelation raised questions on who funds ARTUZ and ZINATU if they represent less than 500 teachers out of 145 000 workforce.
Meanwhile, PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said government’s failure to address concerns of teachers was compromising the quality and standards of education.
“That examinations could be invigilated by anyone is the highest contempt for teachers and their value that has ever been subjected to them,” he said.
“That contempt for teachers has taken us to where we are today. This is why the education system has been systematically vandalised. The trash talk is totally unacceptable.”
ARTUZ leader Obert Masaraure says Government was playing a divide-and-rule tactic against unions with a view to weakening the voice and demands of educators.
“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is no longer concerned about the quality of services they are providing. It has ceased to care about the situation in the education system. It is my view that the authorities are sabotaging the current government,” said Masaraure.
“We are aware that for some years, education had been the pillar of Zimbabwe’s success story, but it has been reduced to tatters. If government fails in education, it has failed in everything. That is the drive with those that do not want the country to prosper.
“They are putting the success of the country under threat by sabotaging the education sector. Teachers will not stop demanding better salaries despite the divide and rule tactic. We still stand by our position that without contracts, no invigilation tomorrow (today).”