Teachers voice indignation at Education minister Mavima

HARARE - Teachers have reacted with indignation and concern over Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima’s move to turn down their request to earn extra income for invigilating competitive State exams.

This comes after the Progressive Teachers Union (PTUZ) and Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) wrote to the minister just before the beginning of grade seven examinations suggesting that they deserved to be paid for their invigilation duties which they assert are outside their job description.

Mavima outrightly rejected the request saying invigilation was part of teachers’ normal duties undertaken during working hours.

Mavima’s words were widely ridiculed by teachers.

The mutual contempt between the minister and the union has long been known. But the invigilation row was widely seen as a new low in the relationship, an attempt to scuttle attempts by poorly paid teachers to earn an extra little income at a vulnerable moment of worsening economic hardships.

Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) secretary-general Tapson Sibanda said they are stunned at the minister’s remarks.

“This shows us the kind of leaders we have in our education system. Truly the minister should have engaged us after we wrote the ministry a letter on September 26, demanding that conduct of public examinations need to be remunerated,” Sibanda said.

He said it was high time the parent ministry adopted what is happening in other neighbouring countries.

“We still argue that it is both morally correct and legally sound to incentivise teachers carrying out this important national duty.

“Some of our neighbouring countries nearby, for example Botswana, do it to their teachers, so why should Zimbabwe always be unappreciative?” Sibanda asked rhetorically.

He vowed that Zimta will continue to push for the incentivisation of invigilators for public examinations considering that Zimsec is a parastatal and teachers don’t have any contract with it.

“Zimsec should pay for this noble cause. Unilateralism on such an important debate is not the best way to go, but we need to be engaged as we defend our demands, and this is what the minister should appreciate,” Sibanda noted.

In a statement, Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) management committee condemned Mavima’s response saying he raises controversial issues against teachers.

The union said the minister has previously equated them to cane cutters who must be paid seasonally.

“If the utterances by minister of Primary and Secondary Education ...Mavima are true to the effect that teachers should not be paid for invigilation of Zimsec exams, then that’s a clear sign of dictatorship, which is tantamount to colonial ill-treatment,” the committee said.

“These venomous utterances by the minister must be condemned by any sane human being under the sun.

“... Mavima must be reminded that his colonial mentality of thinking that teachers are pawns that can be pushed anywhere willy-nilly is very unfortunate in as much it is regrettable and unacceptable.”  

Mavima told State media last weekend: “They should consider that invigilation is part of their normal duties at school undertaken during working hours and in place of other duties that they would normally be doing at that time.

“I believe that all our teachers would be inclined to put the interest of the country and those of the learners first and would answer the call to duty.

“I do not know what parents who are facing economic challenges will say if made to pay additional amounts to compensate teachers for doing their usual work.”       

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