We welcome the decision by Government to recruit 2 300 teachers with immediate effect. The target is 7 000 and this is only the starting point. The move is certainly a timely intervention as the teacher-pupil ratio was increasing to unmanageable levels by the day. Imagine a teacher facing 50 pupils in some class in high-density suburbs in Harare. The situation is even worse in rural areas which teachers shun citing lack of basic infrastructure like proper housing, electricity and potable water.
The sad state of affairs was threatening to undo gains registered in the education sector since independence in 1980. The gains were achievable courtesy of a deliberate policy by President Mugabe to ensure education is the backbone of socio-political-economic development.
This was achieved through massive teacher training programmes soon after independence that facilitated the decolonisation of a sector long monopolised by a white minority.
The free education for all policy ensured every Zimbabwean had access to education and this explains why today Zimbabwe stands tall in Africa in so far as literacy is concerned.
This was courtesy of the visionary leadership of President Mugabe whose stance on education is known by all. The failure to recruit more teachers over the years, therefore, was self defeating and a deletion of the good we had done since freedom day.
We note that with a depleted workforce, it was going to be a Herculean task for Primary and Secondary Education Minister Dr Lazarus Dokora to ensure the smooth implementation of the new education curriculum recently adopted.
This was going to be a blow for a nation that is now looking beyond Napoleonic history to embrace an education system that produces entrepreneurs and not job hunters. The time to be a slave died with independence. We are aware that Dr Dokora requires 4 700 more teachers, resources allowing, but Rome was not built in a day, step by step, that is achievable.
The directive by Government for the recruitment of more teachers at a time when resources are not readily available to meet their remuneration further confirms its commitment to empower every Zimbabwean of school going age.
We rightly call for transparency in the recruitment process fully aware that corruption has permeated every sector of the economy.
Let those who deserve, get the job. Let us burn the fingers of those demanding a few pieces of gold in return for teaching posts. We are not saying it is happening. No. We are being cautious fully aware that bad apples exist. We urge authorities to consider schools in remote areas when deploying the new teachers to afford all pupils equal access to education.
In this environment where employment is hard to come-by, we urge teachers not to be selective. They ought to be passionate about their profession.