TEACHERS’ unions have expressed hope that the appointment of a new Primary and Secondary Education minister will change the education sector for the better.
On Wednesday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa dropped Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema from his Cabinet and replaced him with Evelyn Ndlovu, who was Minister of State in Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga’s office.
Mathema in now Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the President.
The 74-year-old has been battling COVID-19-related complications, and his tenure as the Primary and Secondary Education minister was marred by constant fights with teachers’ unions over poor salaries.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said teachers hoped that the new Education minister would be in support of their ambitions.
“We welcome the new minister to the ministry and hope she will not walk along the destructive commandist path that Mathema was navigating,” Zhou said.
“There are serious challenges facing the ministry, chief among them the starvation wages of teachers and escalating COVID-19 cases at schools as well as low morale.”
He said he hoped the new minister would abandon Mathema’s management style and prioritise engagement with key education stakeholders.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association acting national general-secretary Goodwill Taderera said teachers hoped that Mnangagwa “got rid” of Mathema in order to improve the education sector.
“The outgoing Mathema had not done anything significant for teachers. We will wait and see, although we think there are many other renowned people in the education sector who would have taken up such posts,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union president Obert Masaraure chipped in saying ministers should implement government policy and called for the revision of austerity policies that deprived the Education ministry of funding.
“The main issue is about the policy direction that Ndlovu will take, and we hope she has listening skills,” he said.
Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union national co-ordinator Wonder Nyapokoto said the educators expected Ndlovu to adopt an open-door policy and to appreciate the challenges being faced by teachers, which include incapacitation, challengers over syllabus coverage and examinations, infrastructural inadequacies and the COVID-19 monster in schools.