The country’s education sector requires an estimated 200 000 teachers.
Last month Public Service minister Paul Mavima said the country had completed bilateral relations with Rwanda where it was going to send mainly people in the teaching profession to work in that country.
Around 447 teachers will be exported to Rwanda to join other Zimbabwean teachers already there.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) president Obert Masaraure said it was very unfortunate that government was exporting the most experienced teachers at a time the country’s schools are under-staffed.
“Our government doesn’t seem to care about delivering on its mandate to provide education to the people as stipulated in section 75 of the Constitution,” Masaraure said.
“The teachers are also severely underpaid, they are leaving in droves to destinations other than Rwanda. Government should prioritise paying a living wage to retain quality teachers in the country.”
Educators Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Tapedza Zhou said: “Government is exporting teachers yet the conditions are actually tougher there. At the moment there is no indication that they shall enjoy better salaries. This is also despite the fact that we still have local demand for teachers which is well above 20 000 and questions are easily raised on why export what you still need? It only makes sense when we conclude that the government has failed teachers,” Zhou said.
“Rwanda has an interest in Zimbabwean teachers because it expects them to be docile and loyal in the face of poor remuneration and harsh working conditions. Rwanda has not yet attracted teachers from other countries in the Sadc region because they are better paid and not readily available to oppressive conditions that Zimbabwean teachers may agree to. Clearly, Zimbabwean teachers are an easy prey to Rwanda’s plans because they are exploitable.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou, however, said there was nothing wrong in sending teachers to Rwanda.
“We call upon the government to ensure that there are broad government-to-government agreements with many regional and continental countries. It is prudent to engage teachers’ unions over the agreements in order to maximise co-operation and have a smooth transition that would not disadvantage learners in Zimbabwe,” Zhou said.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said: “Government exporting teachers to Rwanda is a positive move since it is failing to pay teachers locally.”
Mavima promised to comment on the issue, but had not done so at the time of going to print yesterday.