The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) convened in Masvingo province from 9 to 12 April for a Collective Bargaining Conference, CBC and Annual General Meeting, AGM. The gathering marked a significant milestone – the union’s 10-year anniversary, which will be celebrated on May 14th under the theme: A decade of trade union democracy: Celebrating tenacious strides toward an inclusive education system.

1.0 Thandiwe Dube Hall of Fame.

The Union admitted inaugural members into the Thandiwe Dube Hall of fame for their outstanding contributions and sacrifices to the Union’s cause.

1.1 Longest serving members.

 ARTUZ’s leadership honored several long-serving members, including Alouis Bimha, Tinashe Zimbandi, Lawrence Mapengo, Cde Fortune Jamela Jamela, and Munyaradzi Ndawana, in recognition of their dedication and contributions over the years.

 1.2 ARTUZ Medals of Valor

Gerald Tavengwa, Edmore Mdara and Takemore Mhlanga, who were unfairly dismissed due to incapacitation protests were awarded with medals of valor for their resolute fight for labour justice.

Sheila Chisirimunhu who was sentenced to 16 months in prison for participating in a peaceful protest was also admitted into the hall of fame with a medal of valor.

1.3 Medals for selfless service. Volunteering Secretariat.

1. Mkono Pride

2. Margaret Chinowaita

3. Coezett Chirinda

4. Stephen Chuma

5. Gift Ostallos Siziba

6. Brighton Makunike

2.0 Renewal of Top 6 mandate.

The union unanimously renewed the mandate of the National Working Committee in line with the constitution which mandates the last AGM before National Congress to elect the National Working Committee. The following are the leaders of the National Working Committee;

  1. National President ,Obert Masaraure;
  2. Vice President, Christine Kayumba;
  3. Secretary General, Robson Chere;
  4. Deputy Secretary General, Munyaradzi Masiyiwa;
  5. Secretary for Information and Publicity, Thembakuye Moyo,
  6.  Secretary of Finance, Brenda Musavengana.

The AGM renewed the current strategic plan anchored on the following strategic pillars;

  1. Membership recruitment and retention
  2. Capacity building
  3. Communication and Networking
  4. Advocacy and lobbying

Under Advocacy the AGM resolved to focus on 5 pillars for the coming year;

  1. Inclusive Access to Education
  2. Labour Justice for teachers
  3. Equitable, accountable and sustainable resources governance
  4. Defending Democracy Initiatives
  5. Solidarity Initiatives
  1. Inclusive Access To Quality Education
  1. To push for the timely disbursement and accountable expenditure of the 2024 budgetary allocation for education and demand a substantive supplementary budget for education.
  2. To advocate for free education in line with section 75 of the constitution and the education act.            
  3. To mobilise resources for acquisition of internet in a box materials for 50 schools in rural Zimbabwe            
  4. To lobby and advocate for an education equalization fund for infrastructure development     
  5. To advocate for the adoption of policy proposals captured in ARTUZ publication, “Beyond Geographies of Inequality.”
  6. To enhance capacity of teachers to deliver instruction through offline e learning platforms and holistic staff development          
  7. To push for the reform of the curriculum including rationalization of newly introduced Schools Based Projects, SBP.
  8. To highlight the challenges in the education sector and counter government propaganda  
  9. To promote Sexual Reproductive Health Rights for the girl child in schools.

The AGM also noted the following challenges on access to education and mandated NEC to come up with advocacy plans.

Teacher-Pupil Ratio and Inclusive Education

Inclusive education is difficult to achieve due to the high teacher-student ratios, with some classrooms having as many as 60 students per teacher. This is exacerbated by the shortage of schools in Zimbabwe, with statistics showing a deficit of 2,800 schools nationwide. The government’s failure to address this deficit tramples upon the constitutional mandate of education equality, leaving many children with substandard education.

Disadvantages of Extra Lessons

Extra lessons, often offered for a fee, are disadvantaging less privileged students. These

lessons target students who can afford the service, promoting elitism and unequal access to education.

Constitutional Right to Education

Section 75 of the Zimbabwe Constitution unequivocally grants every Zimbabwean the right to basic state-funded education. The government has a constitutional duty to progressively make education accessible and available by implementing reasonable and legislative measures. However, this has not been the case.

Challenges with the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM)

Teachers have also raised concerns about the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), which has effectively crippled schools, rendering them incapable of delivering quality education. The national budget consistently fails to prioritize education, treating it as an afterthought rather than a fundamental pillar of Zimbabwean society.

  • Realization Of Labour Justice

Goal 2 To work towards the progressive realization of labour justice in line with section 65 of the constitution.

  1. To advocate for a minimum of USD 1 260 as teacher salary.
  2. To enhance the capacity of teachers to push for labour justice, conscientising teachers of their rights
  3. To unite teacher Unions to work together towards the realization
  4. To organize communities to push for labour justice for teachers
  5.  Hold government accountable on its promises including pledged to teachers including housing for all Civil Servants.
  6.  Advocate and litigate for alignment of labour laws to the new constitution
  7. Defend victimized teachers through litigation
  8. To assert the rights to leave days including absolute maternity leave,
  •  To organize teachers to demand substantive sector specific allowances including substantive rural allowance.

In addition, the following specific issues were extensively discussed;

Pensions and Retirement Remuneration

Teachers have expressed concerns about the inadequate pensions they receive upon retirement, with some getting as little as US$30 per month. The government must ensure that it adequately cares for its employees even after they have retired. There is a need for a constant review of the pension contribution by employers to ensure that retired teachers are able to live comfortably.

Rural Allowance and Teacher Support

Educators in rural schools face the daunting task of attracting and retaining qualified teachers, who are essential for delivering quality education to students in these marginalized areas. The teachers called on the government to fulfill its promises, including providing school fee waivers for teachers’ children. The teachers also resolved to organize communities to push for labor justice and defend victimized teachers through litigation.

Fair Remuneration for Teachers

The teachers have resolved that a fair and just remuneration for teachers should be US$1,260 per month, which would enable them to live a decent life, support their families, and meet their

financial obligations.

Addressing Understaffing and Unemployment

While statistics show that most schools are understaffed, research also indicates that there are a significant number of qualified but unemployed teachers. These skilled, knowledge-driven, and passionate educators have had their dreams crushed by unemployment. The teachers called on the government to create real employment opportunities for teachers and grant them fair wages that enable them to live with dignity and thrive.

  • To promote the preservation of the environment and engender community resilience in the face of climate change, advocate for accountable, equitable and sustainable resources goverannce
  • To build consciousness among teachers on the need to preserve the environment, causes and impact of climate change.
  • To promote literacy on mitigating strategies in the face of climate change for rural small scale farmers.
  • To organise communities to fight for equitable, accountable and sustainable resources governance

The teachers have resolved that there is a need to promote the preservation of the environment and foster community engagement. They plan to build awareness among teachers on the importance of environmental conservation, the causes of climate change, and its impact on communities.

  • The Promotion Of Democratic Practices In Zimbabwe.

Under the resolution,

Depoliticization of Civil Service and Collaboration with Civic Organizations

The teachers have resolved to mobilize citizens to push for the depoliticization of the civil service, in line with Section 200 of the constitution. Additionally, they plan to collaborate with other civic organizations to resist the enactment and implementation of repressive laws.

The teachers have noted that some school headmasters are using their political, particularly ruling party, affiliations to victimize teachers who hold different political views. In response, the teachers have vowed to offer solidarity and support to their colleagues facing such political victimization.

Addressing the Lack of Communication from the Government

The teachers have also expressed concern that the government is no longer issuing circulars to inform them of important changes and updates. This has left the teachers in the dark regarding critical issues affecting their profession and their ability to effectively serve their students

The teachers pledged to address these challenges through a multi-pronged approach:

  1. Mobilizing citizens to push for the depoliticization of the civil service, as per the constitutional mandate.
  2. Collaborating with civic organizations to collectively resist the enactment and implementation of repressive laws.
  3. Providing solidarity and support to teachers facing political victimization from school administrators.
  4. Demanding better communication and transparency from the government, ensuring that teachers are informed of relevant policy changes and updates.
  • Solidarity.

The Union shall initiate and join solidarity campaigns that are pro the oppressed people of the world.