With just a day to go before schools open, there is confusion on the payment of teacher incentives by parents as education officials have dismissed the practice as tantamount to corruption.
This is a stark contrast to Education minister David Coltart’s assertion that incentives should stay as they are a form of supplementary income for teachers to stem the mass exodus of professionals.
Bulawayo provincial education director Dan Moyo last week lashed out at teachers and schools still demanding incentives and has ordered that they should stop the practice forthwith.
Addressing a five-day workshop on HIV and Aids, gender, life skills and counselling for secondary school teachers at Hillside Teachers’ College in Bulawayo last week, Moyo told teachers to stop demanding incentives as it is corruption.
“Teachers should immediately stop demanding incentives from parents as this is corruption and fraud. One can actually get arrested for that as it is a crime,” he said.
Moyo said most qualified teachers were avoiding applying for higher positions in the education system as they were enjoying incentives at schools.
“We always advertise posts for deputy headmasters and mistresses, but we hardly receive any responses, despite the large number of qualified teachers,” he said. “One of the reasons is that they look at the advertised post and then if they realise it will be difficult to get an incentive in the post, they decide not to apply.”
He said the practice should be stopped. “The issue of incentives has greatly corrupted our education system and it should be stopped immediately,” said the veteran educationist.
However, in an interview with NewsDay, Coltart said incentives were there to stay until teachers started to earn reasonable salaries.
“Incentives are still there and have to remain until we are able to start paying teachers a reasonable salary,” he said.
Coltart said totally stopping incentives would cause a major disruption in schools.
“If we are to cut out incentives, it would cause a major disruption in schools as we would lose thousands of teachers,” he said. Coltart pointed out that he was eager to stop incentives as soon as teachers were paid reasonably.
The issue of incentives has been a bone of contention since last year, with some parents totally refusing to pay, while in some schools, parents agreed to so that their children get adequate education.
Between 2007 and 2008, Zimbabwe lost about 20 000 teachers, mostly to neighbouring countries.