Teachers’ unions in disharmony

HARARE – Teachers’ unions have very different legal positions on the mooted Teachers Profession Council (TPC), with the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) refusing to sign the draft document while Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) is supporting the idea.

The TPC will define who a teacher is and will be given legal standing through an Act of Parliament, and if approved, will see teachers joining other professions like doctors and lawyers who get certificates before they practice and could be de-registered if they fall foul of standing regulations.

The idea came amid concerns of a marked decline in the character and moral values of teachers and also an increase in cases of indiscipline, corruption, sexual and physical abuse in schools.

In a letter to Primary and Secondary Education minister Lazarus Dokora, PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said they will not sign the draft document because it will give power to the minister to appoint seven councillors, a move he said will undermine the independence of the board.

“We write to communicate our position on appending our signature to the TPC draft document. After a long and thorough interrogation of the document with our Management Committee, we took a position to decline to sign the document for we have serious reservation with the proposed composition and the manner of election of the councillors to the TPC.

“Whereas best practices must be given due consideration in adjudicating over process that obviously determines the outcomes at the end of the day, it is our considered view that the minster’s involvement in the appointment of the chairperson and seven councillors (as contained in section 3.1.1) will grossly undermine the autonomy, independence and self-regulation of the proposed Council.

“As such, the proposed Council’s execution of its mandate and duties would be heavily compromised if allowed to take the proposed form and structure. Serious reconsideration must be taken,” said Majongwe.

However, Zimta chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said they are supporting the proposed Council.

“We support the TPC. We initiated this move, it’s a result of our recommendations that we made as far back as 1997.

“I think it’s a premature (for PTUZ to reject the document). Concerns are going to be discussed later. At the moment we are looking at principles. This is not a new thing as other countries are doing the same,” Ndlovu told the Daily News

Former Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere said as long as the council is legally constituted, the idea was brilliant.

“What is important is that the TPC should be justiciable hence the need to set it up through an Act of Parliament in case there are legal issues that might arise but it will be unfair to comment on its contents  before its framework is established,” Chigwedere said.

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