Zimbabwe’s educational system is seriously endangered by the escalating political and economic crisis, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has said.
In a statement this week, the educators said:“ARTUZ is here to sound the alarm on the dire state of education in our country.”
It continued: “We refuse to turn a blind eye to the continuing political and economic crisis that has plunged Zimbabwe into a deep-rooted social crisis, affecting the very foundation of our society.
“Education, especially primary and secondary education, is the bedrock of sustainable development, and it is high time our government starts treating it as such. We demand immediate and significant funding for education in the upcoming 2024 budget.”
The budget for 2023, according to the educators, was an empty promise.
“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education may have boosted the highest allocation among all ministries in the 2023 budget, but it was nothing more than an empty gesture.
“The allocation of ZWL$631.279bn, accounting for a mere 14.04% of the total national budget, fell far short of what was needed to make real improvements in the education sector.
Even with a slight increase from the previous year, the 2023 budget is a far cry from the 4.6% range to GDP recommended by the Incheon Declaration for Education (2015), which Zimbabwe is a signatory to.
“ARTUZ demands a minimum budget allocation of 20% of GDP, aligning with the Dakar Declaration. This means allocating 4% to 6% of GDP to education, as outlined in the targets set by the Incheon Declaration for Education.
“We refuse to accept the government’s pitiful allocation of 0.4% of the total budget for the schools feeding programme. How can we expect our children to learn on empty stomachs?
“The per capita allocation of US$1.60 per learner per year is an insult to their well-being. We demand an immediate increase of at least US$0.50 per learner per school day for the school feeding program. This program must expand to include urban schools affected by poverty as well.”
Teachers expressed their belief that the government’s commitment to providing basic education was merely a series of hollow words.
“The meager allocation of ZWL$1.930bn for tuition grants falls woeful short of ensuring equal access to education for all children. We demand an immediate increase to at least US410 per school term(US$30 per year) per learner.
“The program must also be expanded to accommodate the growing number of children affected by poverty and declining family incomes.”