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Mathema blasted over second term fees rant

by Staff reporter
16 Jun 2020 at 09:34hrs | Views
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) yesterday described the call by Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema on parents to pay second term school fees as "an act of provocation and callousness" by government at a time when there was no economic activity during lockdown.

With Zimbabwe grappling with unemployment estimated at 95% while the COVID-19-induced lockdown has seen companies close with those that are operating doing so at limited capacity, PTUZ said asking parents to pay fees when schools are closed was tantamount to provocation as the ministry itself was failing to invest in COVID-19 abatement measures.

Mathema was quoted by the media as having said that government would not exempt pupils from paying second term fees although students would go back to school in September.

Schools closed a week after COVID-19 surfaced in Zimbabwe in March and have remained closed as the cases of the pandemic have risen to more than 380 people.

"The proposal for opening schools on July 28 as envisaged by government remains far-fetched and remote given government failure to procure and distribute requisite equipment to combat COVID-19 effects," PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said.

"What has surprised all and sundry is the enunciation by the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education (Mathema) to the effect that pupils will be forced to pay fees for second term as this is at best a fantasy and at worst callous, irresponsible, provocative and outright thievery by government," he said.

Zhou blasted Mathema saying that he seemed "far detached from the vagaries that have befallen the generality of Zimbabweans during COVID-19-induced lockdown where they survived through informal means given the inherent 95% unemployment rate".

He described it as "the greatest act of educational provocation ever seen in human history and calls for equal and opposite reaction by parents".

"What many parents and teachers who have all tested positive to poverty may want to know is whether this is coming from the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, or else it's a Cabinet decision? If it's a Cabinet decision then it is reflective of the poverty of leadership in Zimbabwe," Zhou said.

He said government needed to be realigned to the harsh exigencies of life experienced by the generality of the Zimbabwean populace.

"Zanu-PF that fought a protracted liberation war against the Rhodesian Front (RF) cannot behave like RF and front neo-liberal policies that sacrifice the generality of the poor people in Zimbabwe. Has the revolution lost its way? It is our submission as PTUZ that the country is taken forward by those who understand the suffering and aspirations of common people those who speak the language of poor people. The earlier President (Emmerson) Mnangagwa reins in minister Mathema, the better for the poor people of Zimbabwe," the PTUZ said.

The teachers' union said "command education" would not work, adding that it would be resisted by poor parents, peasants, teachers and other stakeholders. "Our humble submission is that if at all schools open this year, they must never pay fees for second term which is as good as over. Opening in September and payment of fees only for third term is more realistic given the hardships faced in scavenging for fees and mammoth task involved in mobilising resources by government in order to guarantee the health and safety of teachers, pupils and ancillary staff," the PTUZ said.

This came as the Primary and Secondary Education ministry in conjunction with State broadcaster the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation yesterday started rolling out radio lessons as an alternate learning platform.

Source - newsday