ZIMBABWE needs to employ more teachers if Government’s move to re-size classes in response COVID-19 pandemic are to bear fruit.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) estimates that the Southern African country is in need of at least 50 000 new teachers.
PTUZ president Tavafira Zhou pointed out that if the country was to adhere to internationally stipulated social distancing dictates, there was an urgent need to employ more educators.
“Obviously this now calls for a paradigm shift in terms of our teacher pupil ratio. The current compliment of 130 000 teachers isn’t enough. So we need at least 50 000 teachers to complement the 130 000,” said Zhou.
Obert Masaraure, President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ), echoed the same sentiments.
Masaraure added that Treasury needs to prioritise social needs over budgetary commitments, highlighting that an urgent mass recruitment of teachers was overdue.
“Before we even consider more classes, we don’t even meet the recommended teacher – leaner ratio. We have a shortage of over 80 000 teachers and we are asking government to give us these teachers for us to adhere to social distancing dictates,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, (ZIMTA), called on government to ensure that funding for education is increased during and after the Covid 19 pandemic.
“In the wake of the COVID 19 Pandemic, overcrowded classrooms will not work, therefore the need to employ more qualified teachers in order to ensure that smaller groups of learners may continue to benefit from delivery of quality public education.
“On average several public schools around the country are operating with a ratio of one teacher to sixty learners, (1:60). Because this is unsustainable for the provision of quality public education and more importantly for the effecting of social distances in schools, the situation will have to change,” said the association in a statement.
The teachers contend that ideal situations would require that teacher to pupil ratios be adjusted to (1: 35) in primary schools whereas in secondary schools, the ratios would have to be adjusted to one teacher for twenty learners, (1:20).
“Consequently adjusting to these levels will require that the Government of Zimbabwe, who is the major guarantor of quality public education for all, must as a matter of urgency employ more qualified teachers to improve staffing levels especially in the public schools,” added ZIMTA.