Obert Masaraure leads the way in the struggle to provide decent education for the schoolchildren of Zimbabwe.
Teachers in Zimbabwe, particularly in rural areas of the country, are not paid well and often not on time. They must grapple with inadequate facilities, lack of electricity and poor sanitation. The government has dismally failed to upgrade schools in the countryside. Under these conditions, many teachers are reluctantly abandoning the profession.
Faced with this crisis, Masaraure organized the Rural Teachers Association Union (RTUZ) to give teachers a voice and to begin correcting these wrongs, Currently, RTUZ has a membership of about 35,000; it has challenged the government to address the miserable salaries and working conditions that rural teachers have to endure, and to provide decent accommodations and trainings.
The Zimbabwe government has not warmly received these efforts. Zimbabwe police have detained Masaraure and other RTUZ members during peaceful awareness campaigns. Masaraure has been assaulted and beaten.
Still, he persists: “I have been arrested and detained several times whilst fighting for the rights of the marginalized rural teachers,” he says, “but that will not stop me from advocating for their rights. This government has dismally failed in uplifting the standards and welfare of the teachers, and it’s really disgusting to note that 36 years after independence, our teachers still live in a 19th-century kind of accommodation.”
In Zimbabwe, the struggle for decent schools continues, with Obert Masaraure at its head.