ZIMBABWE – Scores of teachers have failed to report for school, three weeks after the phased re-opening of schools began citing incapacitation.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe President, Dr Takavafira M. Zhou clarified that teachers are not on strike as reported in some section of the media, but that they are incapacitated and are unable to travel and attend to their duties.
“We want to make it categorically clear without any equivocation or ambiguity that teachers are not on strike. They are patriotic and want to report for work but are incapacitated and have health and safety concerns emanating from Covid-19 pandemic that must be addressed as a matter of urgency. It is the state that has incapacitated teachers by reducing their salaries from US$550 in October 2018 to the current US$40-US$50. This reduction totally eroded the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries,” Dr Zhou has said.
He said, what further frustrate the teachers is the fact that other civil servants are getting preferential treatment.
“Worse still government has entrenched discrepancies between teachers and other workers by awarding these other workers’ salaries that treble and even quadruple teachers’ salaries. Such preferential treatment dubbed ‘Presidential prerogative’ by George Charamba is a threat to harmonious civil-military relations, security and equity,” he added.
Fundamentally, teachers earn a salary ranging from $4000 to $5000 after the recent 40% so called Cost of Living Adjustment which they never asked for.
MDC Alliance spokesperson Advocate Fadzayi Mahere, has implored on government to take the plight of the teachers seriously.
“If its indeed true that Minister Mthuli Ncube has a surplus in his budget, then it should go towards paying Teachers and all civil servants to get a living wage. You cannot expect teachers to go to school when they cannot even live. USD$35 is not even enough to get a Covid-19 test, so how do you expect them in the middle of a global pandemic to go and teach, what if they expose themselves? They don’t have PPE, the conditions under which they work are deplorable,” Advocate Mahere said.
The education system in Zimbabwe is under stress now as the economic crisis continues to bedevil the nation. Advocate Mahere implored on government to listen to teacher concerns and address the crisis fully.
“We need root and branch reform in the education sector. It is not sustainable to give peace meal donations. The education crisis cannot be solved by charity. We expect the government to take teacher concerns seriously, solve the remuneration crisis. Listen to the concerns of the teachers. Don’t do what you did with doctors where you intimidate and threaten them, solve the problem,” Advocate Mahere stressed.
The stand-off between government and teachers continue with parents withdrawing their children from schools, while those who are in schools are unattended.