By Andile Tshuma
Teachers’ unions have welcomed President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s decision to drop controversial Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Lazarus Dokora from the new Cabinet.
Professor Paul Mavima, who was the Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education under ex-President Cde Robert Mugabe’s administration and had retained the position, is now the new minister.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sifiso Ndlovu, said they hope the new minister learnt from his predecessor’s mistakes such as failing to consult when making far-reaching decisions.
Mr Ndlovu gave examples of times when Dr Dokora was at loggerheads with teachers’ unions over some of his reforms that include the new curriculum and the issue of the national pledge.
He lamented the former minister’s failure to improve the plight of teachers in the country.
“We don’t have any problems with authorities appointing anybody to lead, we have no problems with any individuals; we want someone with knowledge of education, who can deliver. Dokora contributed, made bold decisions, made mistakes, failed to listen sometimes, but he did contribute to education,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president, Mr Obert Masaraure said his union was happy that Dr Dokora had been dropped but wished him well in his future endeavours.
“The noble dismissal of Honourable Dokora is a welcome move and we welcome it with a lot of expectation on the incoming minister in the portfolio.
We never had a problem with Dr Dokora but had issues with his reforms and some elements of the new curriculum.
We had a problem with the way he imposed the new curriculum which was going to destroy our sector; the teacher professional council which was going to deregister teachers willy nilly.
We still have those issues on the table and we are hoping the incoming minister will address those issues so that the education sector can move forward,” he said.
Mr Masaraure called for consultation by the ministry to ensure representation of all stakeholders.
“For our sector to move forward, there must be comprehensive stakeholder consultations. There are a lot of talented Zimbabweans out there who can contribute to the education sector. We cannot all be ministers but through consultations, many worthwhile contributions may be made to the system,” said Mr Masaraure.
He said there was an urgent need to bridge the gap between rural and urban schools.
“The biggest inequality for us is the gap in the education sector where rural learners are excluded from real learning; they do not have proper infrastructure and enough competent teachers.
We are hoping that the new minister can also be at the forefront pushing for an education equalisation fund, which will go a long way in improving and developing infrastructure in rural schools and introducing a rural teacher retention allowance to incentivising rural teachers and thereby improving rural education,” he said. The Chronicle