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Ministry proposes improvement of teachers’ lot

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Education, Sport, Art and Culture ministry has submitted proposals to Cabinet to improve salaries and other working conditions of teachers, a minister has said.
Education minister David Coltart announced this during a workshop at Mpumelelo Primary School in Mpopoma, Bulawayo, last week. He was speaking on the $52 million Education Transition Fund which has seen the production of 13 million textbooks for primary school children in the country.
He said apart from the supply of textbooks and other learning materials, the improvement of conditions of service of teachers was critical for the success of the education revival programme.
Coltart said he last week submitted a plan drawn up by his ministry to address the issue of teachers’ welfare and Cabinet was expected to debate on the matter soon.
“I can’t divulge the contents of the plan,” Coltart said. “However, apart from the provision of textbooks, the plight of teachers, who have played an important role under exceptionally difficult circumstances, is covered.”
Coltart said teachers were getting salaries that were way below what they should be receiving but most of them had remained loyal to the profession.
He said apart from proposals on salaries, the ministry was also seeking to improve teachers’ accommodation, especially in rural areas where most teachers lived in “squalid conditions”. Coltart was recently in Britain where he addressed an international conference on the challenges the education sector in Zimbabwe. “It is clear that government does not have sufficient resources to stabilise the education sector in Zimbabwe,’’ he said.
The minister said despite numerous problems spawned by the system of teacher incentives paid by parents, he did not feel persuaded to stop the practice.
Coltart said stopping incentives would be a “populist move” but would seriously “haemorrhage” the education sector. He said incentives were a form of supplementary income for teachers to “stem” the mass exodus of these professionals. Coltart said between 2007 and 2008, Zimbabwe lost about 20 000 teachers, mostly to neighbouring countries.

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