Teachers incentives to stay

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The Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture and teachers’ unions have agreed to keep teachers’ incentives in place until an all stakeholders’ workshop is held next month.

Education minister David Coltart last night said the parties agreed the issue was complex and needed the input of other stakeholders such as parents, churches, officials from the Ministry of Finance and school development associations for lasting solutions to be found.

“I have agreed to convene a stakeholders’ conference from 18 to 20 October to look at the issue,” Coltart said. “This means incentives will remain in place until the workshop. The ministry will deploy officials to particular schools where there has been disruption (of classes) to find solutions in the short term, while we work on the long term solutions.”

He said outcomes from the stakeholders’
workshop would be incorporated into the review of the education sector which he was carrying out.

The president of the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe, Takavafira Zhou, said his organisation supported the outcome of the meeting but remained strongly against incentives, saying they had caused confusion and divided teachers.

He said the incentives had only benefited about 15% of teachers while 85%, most of whom were in rural areas, were going without.

“We highlighted our position, but the government side also told us that the intention was to raise salaries to at least $500 after which the incentives would be scrapped.

“But we strongly feel that they should be done away with unless they are standardised, because they have brought a lot of divisions and chaos,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association and the Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe were also against the incentives, preferring that teachers in rural areas be given rural allowances. The teachers’ representatives called on the government to look into the issue of rural allowances in the next budget.

There has been disruption of classes at some schools when teachers downed tools demanding incentives.