By Dr Takavafira Zhou
As Ptuz, we want to make it categorically clear that parents and guardians with children at Ndangababi Primary School at Cross Dete in Hwange, Matabeleland North, who want five teachers at the school to transfer with immediate effect are out of order.
There are three factors behind transfer under conditions of service of teachers, viz, request by a teacher, promotion, and as determination from a hearing of a misconduct charge. The charges levelled against teachers at Ndangababi do not fall under the three categories outlined and the ordered transfer has no locus standi. It is noteworthy that in terms of regulations governing civil servants (section 13 (3)(a) of SI1 of 2000 and amendments of 2001) every transfer must be planned to minimise discomfort on the part of the member concerned and his/her family; and 3(b) be notified timeously to the member concerned, who shall be provided with all necessary information relating to the transfer.
Section 13(4) clearly states that “no transfer shall be used as a punitive measure” except as a determination of disciplinary procedures.
How the parents have reached at the verdict that teachers are incompetent and insubordinate and disrespectful to traditional leaders and community leaders, is shrouded in mystery. While it is prudent to respect traditional leaders and community leaders, it must be spelt out that failure to do that is not even an act of misconduct.
Never in history have we heard of a transfer of a police officer, soldier, nurse by community members. That community members now think they can dismiss teachers speaks volumes of the fall of teachers from grace to grass with monotonous regularity that must never be accepted in a civilised society. If parents have genuine grievances, they must approach the school head and provide evidence, which evidence must be used by the school head together with his investigating report to prefer charges against the teachers. Hearings would be conducted to determine the veracity of the parents’ claims. Without such procedures taken, the teachers must stay put at the school, and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education must prefer charges against the head for bringing the name of the school into disrepute and disrespect. It is our reasoned opinion that there is more to Ngangababi Primary School than what meets the public eye. Until normal investigations are done and teachers there are provided with evidence beyond mere speculation and wishful thinking, Ptuz stands with the tormented teachers and advise parents and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to follow regulations laid down than an attempt to use callous and draconian colonial Master and Servant Act in instant transfer and dismissal. Assuming that the teachers are incompetent and insubordinate, which we doubt, there is no school that can desire such teachers. The remedy there must be to staff develop them while they are at their current station. Let the parents and traditional leaders in Hwange be rest assured that an attack on teachers at Ndangababi, is a threat to all teachers in Zimbabwe. As Ptuz we will never be silent when teachers are denigrated and lowly paid. Let all those parents who want teachers to improve pass rates in schools also assist in lobbying gvt for better salaries and conditions of service.
Dr Takavafira M. Zhou is the President of Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe