GOVERNMENT has assured teachers they will not lose their jobs in the ongoing staff rationalisation exercise aimed at reducing the civil service wage bill.
Primary and Secondary Education deputy minister Paul Mavhima made the remarks at the official handover ceremony of three classroom blocks and five teachers’ cottages at Malanda Secondary School in Tsholotsho yesterday.
The structures, built at a cost of $199 762, were donated by the Japanese Embassy in Zimbabwe.
The school had since 2011 operated as a satellite institution, with its students writing final examinations at neighbouring schools. Construction of the classroom blocks began last year.
Mavhima said the country currently had a serious shortage of teachers, hence, there will be no job cuts in the education sector.
“It’s not my ministry that is undertaking the staff rationalisation exercise. It’s the employer, the Civil Service Commission. My understanding is that no teacher will be retrenched during this exercise.
“Actually, there is overstaffing in some places and what is happening or after this exercise you will realise that some teachers will be transferred from some schools (that are overstaffed) to fill gaps somewhere where there is a need for qualified teachers,” he said yesterday.
Government is undertaking a staff rationalisation exercise in a bid to reduce its unsustainable wage bill.
“Teachers should not come to the conclusion that this exercise is targeting them and will result in retrenchments. We have over 13 000 unqualified teachers and how can qualified teachers then say they are being targeted for dismissal?
“Under this exercise, we want to know if schools have adequate teachers, then we see to it that some are redeployed to places where there is a shortfall,” he said.
Speaking at the same event, Matabeleland North Governor Cain Mathema condemned as deplorable living conditions of rural teachers, saying some of the houses resembled those built by the colonial regime in the 1950s.
Mathema said it was unacceptable that 36 years after independence, rural teachers still shared rooms and were forced to travel long distances in search for water and firewood.
“Teachers should not be sharing accommodation in schools. This used to happen in the 1950s. We no longer want that. Each teacher should have his or her own house and not be seen sharing rooms with others.
“These are professionals that have done the best under very difficult circumstances. Let us improve their working conditions, they need piped water, electricity and accommodation,” he said.
The Japanese envoy, Yoshi Hiraishi weighed in, saying lack of accommodation for teachers caused high staff turnover, culminating in low pass rates among pupils.