About 3 000 qualified teachers who quit their jobs at the height of economic problems are still stranded after applying for re-employment in the civil service, teachers' unions said yesterday.This comes at a time when the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has reported a critical shortage of qualified personnel to fill thousands of vacant posts, especially in rural schools.
A senior education official who requested anonymity said the Civil Service Commission had stringent conditions on 'prodigal' educators.
"Such teachers are required to apply through their provincial education offices and have finger prints taken before going through a vetting process by the CSC," said the official.
"It takes between six months and one year to be accepted back into the system on temporary basis and they are only allowed to apply for permanent employment after two years."
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive officer Mr Sifiso Ndlovu said the CSC's stance was opposed to reviving the education system.
"It's good news that some of these teachers want to come back, but the regulations employed by the CSC are stringent," he said.
Scores of teachers abandoned the profession and sought "greener pastures" in neighbouring countries around 2007 and 2008.
Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe provincial head for Bulawayo Mr Vusumuzi Mahlangu said the goal of empowering schools with qualified teachers would be difficult unless returning teachers were engaged.
"Re-joining the Government has become difficult for former teachers," he said. "It was agreed by unions and Government that these teachers should be accepted without any conditions, but surprisingly the teachers are being shut out of the system by unreasonable conditions."
Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Professor Paul Mavhima acknowledged that a number of teachers had applied for re-employment, but defended the CSC regulations.
"There is nothing out of the norm," he said. "It's a process that every employer follows before engaging employees that have left before. Some even left without giving notice and it warrants us to put them through a vetting process before full-time employment. Those who have been downgraded should not complain because it's normal. They can't expect us to demote other people for them to retain their positions."