GOVERNMENT has recruited 5 300 teachers in a drive that will result in about 20 000 unemployed but qualified teachers being hired as part of measures to ensure social distancing in schools.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema said Government was working on hiring every qualified teacher in Zimbabwe, a project which will be done in consultation with the Ministries of Finance and Economic Development and that of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
This comes at a time when schools reopened yesterday for the second phase that saw Grade Six, Form Three and Form Five classes returning to school.
Schools closed prematurely towards the end of the First Term in March as part of measures to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Government resolved to reopen schools in three phases to allow room to monitor challenges that may arise.
The examination classes reopened on September 28 while the last batch will reopen on November 9.
The Ministry recently came up with Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) to guide the safe reopening of schools as learning institutions adopt a new normal in view of the global pandemic.
The measures include reducing class sizes to a maximum of 35 pupils to decongest classrooms in adherence to social distancing requirements.
In an interview, Minister Mathema confirmed the recruitment of more than 5 000 teachers this month and plans to recruit more.
Pupils walk from school after lessons in Bulawayo yesterday
“The Government has just recruited 5 000 teachers in a drive to employ the over 20 000 unemployed qualified teachers that we had by last November. I don’t have a breakdown of how many teachers were allocated to each province during the last recruitment but the process has been completed and we are working towards hiring more,” said Minister Mathema.
He said the outbreak of the global pandemic which has claimed 227 lives in Zimbabwe had necessitated the recruitment of more teachers.
“Covid-19 has also encouraged us to hire more teachers, it has necessitated us or forced us to increase the number of teachers because of social distancing. It is our wish that we employ every qualified teacher and procedure states that this has to be done in consultation with the Ministry of Public Service and Ministry of Finance,” added Minister Mathema.
“The establishment that we have requires more teachers but it is dependent on the availability of funds but as a ministry we are ready to employ all the teachers that are trained. In any case we still need 3 000 new schools in Zimbabwe and that will require more teachers than what we have.”
According to Minister Mathema, in rural areas, 500 families should have their own primary and secondary school, a requirement which has not yet been met.
“Zimbabwe needs more than 3 000 additional schools to cater for the growing number of learners in both primary and secondary schools. We need to work together with councils, churches and other private players so that we construct these schools,” added Minister Mathema.
He said Government was still negotiating with disgruntled teachers who are on strike.
“We are still engaging them in negotiations and hope that soon we will reach a compromise and they return to work.”