Sir, – Last week you delivered a letter highlighting the acceleration of political repression in Zimbabwe (September 15).
Sadly, we teachers’ unions have had the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of its impact on education. Visiting Dublin in June to receive his Frontline Defenders Award, Obert Masaraure, President of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, gave us a graphic description of how, in preparation for the 2023 presidential election, “ Local Zanu PF leaders close schools for day-long political rallies where refreshments and entertainment must be provided by students. When teachers objected to these closures, they were arrested. In Obert’s case, he was arrested, tortured, released, re-arrested and now faces multiple criminal charges.
As educators, we are deeply concerned about the impact of school closures on the right of Zimbabwean children to education. The impact of the Covid pandemic has had a disastrous impact as poverty has prevented millions of children from accessing online alternatives. In 2011, the country’s international poverty rate – $1.90 per person per day – was half that of sub-Saharan Africa. In March 2020, it was tied with the rest of the continent at 42%. Educators including Obert Masaraure have warned of a slide into widespread illiteracy if schools continue to be arbitrarily closed and teachers diverted from their professional work.
Almost 40% of the Zimbabwean population is under 15 years old. They must have access to education: the future of Zimbabwe depends on them. We call on the Zimbabwean authorities to end the arbitrary closure of schools, end the repression of teachers and their union leaders and give young people a chance. – Yours, etc.,
secondary school teachers,
Teachers’ Union of Ireland
organization of teachers,