The President of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Dr Takavafira Zhou has criticised the Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Professor Amon Murwira after the Union was summoned by the Parliamentary portfolio committee on Higher and Tertiary Education. The Union was summoned to brief the committee on the impact of the recent fees increase by tertiary institutions. Below is Takavafira’s statement in full.
Minister, Amon Murwira’s Perceptions of Teacher Trade Unions Warped
5 March 2020
The recent outburst by Hon Minister Murwira at the invitation of teacher trade unions (Ptuz and Zimta) by the portfolio committee on Higher and Tertiary Education cannot go unchallenged. In the vogue, vacuous and vapid analysis of Prof Murwira, there was no need to call teacher unions to make submissions on the impact of the increase of fees in tertiary institutions as they fall under Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, and not his ministry. The modicum of respect that we had for Prof Murwira has suddenly evaporated, as a result of his exposed ignorance, aridity, acidity and rigidity to teachers.
As Ptuz, we wish to remind the Hon Minister that: -Teacher training is under his Ministry, although employment is under the line Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.
-We don’t even see the efficacy of separating the two Ministries, and even the 1999 Nziramasanga Commission recommended that the two Ministries be two departments under one Ministry in order to enhance interoperability in policy formulation and implementation. At any rate the separation is not only draining the coffers of the state but serving no purpose other than rewarding cronies.
-Student teachers on teaching practice who earn $150 per month and are affected by fees increase are our major concern as their counterparts in nursing, police and army earn a full salary.
-Qualified teachers who are members of teacher unions further their studies at tertiary institutions and are affected by exorbitant fees increase.
– We are, therefore, not only interested in the final product which is the teacher (our member) but the production process (training).
-He needs to be given an accurate perspective of not only the relationship between the labour movement and the Ministries of Education but also the scope and breadth of labour interests on national issues and mandate.
-We are not narrow-minded but deal with issues to do with governance as bonafide citizens of this country.
-Teachers are parents too with children in tertiary institutions and are directly affected by fees increase, more so because govt has ensured that they have all tested positive to poverty and penury.
-UN 2030 Sustainable Goal for Education (SDG4) which pledges to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” can never be restricted to those in tertiary institution buildings but all level headed Zimbabweans ready to play a role. Teachers are no exceptions as in essence they are a vital cog of national development.
-Even the 5.0 focusing on teaching/learning, research, community service, innovation and industrialisation can never become a reality in the closeted conception of the Minister. It certainly needs industry, community, educators, science and technology.
-At best education is a right, and at worst must be accessible and affordable. Teachers would not keep quiet when education is systematically made a preserve of the rich and specialist in thievery.
-He is guilty of selective forgetfulness
-The only progressive thing to do is to address the issues raised and not a futile attempt to shoot the messenger of hope.
Indeed we wonder why Professors degenerate into human epidemics once they become Ministers? Hon Murwira’s sentiments are unbecoming of a Professor, and one can only surmise he must have been getting notes from Prof Mthuli Ncube of late. Prof Murwira must broaden his mind and be receptive to ideas that can enhance cohesive learning paradigms irrespective of their source. It is also imperative for him to stop being a cry baby and endeavour to direct technology freely from the academic domain to the praxis and the grassroots. Last but not least we expect Prof Murwira to resolve the impasse of the 2019 final year medical students, whose completion of studies is still in limbo as they were affected by doctors’ industrial action. This is surely a better focus than baseless emotional outburst.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou (Ptuz President)