School examinations, which are set to begin next Monday, are in serious doubt after teachers refused to invigilate them for free.
This comes as both teachers and their employer, the government have maintained hard-line stances over their long-running labour dispute, with government accusing them of undermining the country’s education system by refusing to invigilate the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) “O” and “A” Level examinations for free.
Zimbabwe’s largest teachers’ union 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.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said if teachers withdraw their services, government will use “anyone” to invigilate the examinations.
Ndoro also claimed that there were many teachers that were not affiliated to unions, who could supervise the examinations for free.
Last year, government resorted to using school ancillary staff and villagers to invigilate after teachers refused to supervise the examinations citing poor working conditions and non-payment for the service.
Last week, the teachers notified government that they would not invigilate the Zimsec examinations if the employer was not paying for the service.
The Public Service Commission, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry and Zimsec have all denied the responsibility for paying teachers.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry secretary Tumisang Thabela declined to comment, and referred questions to Ndoro, who claimed 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,” Ndoro 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,” he said
Ndoro told the press last week that withdrawal of invigilating services by teachers had no impact as “anyone” could invigilate the examinations. He said 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.”
But the unions accused government of using divide and rule tactics to dissuade them from fighting for a common cause.
“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,” Artuz president Obert 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).”
UZ secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said: “The (Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education) can go ahead and contract ‘anyone’, who will provide invigilation services for free. Fortunately, our professional teachers are not ‘anyone’, hence are determined to avoid providing a professional service to an external entity that does not pay them. Most of them will be relieved that MoPSE [Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education] is now engaging a guy called ‘anyone’ who will invigilate all examinations across the country. ‘Anyone’ will invigilate examinations while our professional teachers will not. Teachers have already made up their mind.”
“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.”