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Teachers celebrate amid divisions

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ZIMBABWE Teachers’ Association (Zimta) on Friday celebrated World Teachers’ Day at the Large City Hall, where the ever dwindling status of teachers was again under the spotlight.

BATANAI MUTASA
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Educators managed to celebrate their day at a fun-filled event.

Musician, Bob Nyabinde, a former teacher, kept the gathered teachers on their toes and cracked a few of the educator’s ribs as he used jokes tinged with satire and sang some of his popular songs.

When he sang the song Chabuda hapana and Ndikafunga pay yangu, the whole hall joined in the sing along, exuding a cheerful ambience, with the teachers, albeit temporarily, forgetting their woes. In line with the theme for the day, “Unite for Quality Education: Invest in Teachers, Invest in the future”, Nyabinde saved the song Love is not love until you give it away, to welcome the guest of honour, Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora to deliver his speech.

The crowd sang the song holding hands to show unity and love among themselves, as the minister prepared to address them.

However, Dokora highlighted the irony of the theme, pointing out that there was obvious disunity within the teaching profession.

“There is the issue of Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) celebrations also being held today in Harare, where the ministry was invited. Eventually, we ended up deploying the deputy minister to Harare, while I asked the secretary of Primary and Secondary Education, Utete Masango, to be here on time and appraise me when I arrived. It eventually worked out,” he said.

“Now why can’t we have these celebrations collectively? Should we be celebrating as individuals? It’s World Teachers’ Day, let’s put our heads together towards convergence where this lack of unity should be resolved.”

There are a number of different teachers’ organisations, including Zimta, PTUZ and the Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, which all celebrate World Teachers’ Day separately.

“We should learn to put aside our differences and work towards common celebrations next year, maybe it will require ourselves as the parent ministry to initiate this idea and already consultations toward that are being made.”

There has been a lot of friction within teachers’ representative unions, emanating from conditions of service and remuneration and this was highlighted in the address by Zimta national president’s address, delivered by deputy president, Shamiso Makumbe.

“Insufficient financing is a major challenge playing our country and threatens the very access to education that we are well known for, let alone quality of education,” she said.

Zimta chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu expressed the same concerns, saying he was aware that the Primary and Secondary Education ministry was not mandated to negotiate salaries with employees, a provision of treasury. But he argued that the minister was at the same level as the Finance minister and thus it was not impertinent to talk about financial matters which affected their welfare with him.

World Teachers’ Day is celebrated on October 5 annually and most celebrations were held early since this year, the actual day was on a Sunday.

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