BY MTHANDAZO NYONI/PATRICIA SIBANDA
Student teachers last week slammed their employer for awarding them $150 monthly stipend, saying the money was a mockery and an insult to their profession. Speaking to NewsDay yesterday, the student teachers said government was condemning them to extreme poverty.
“Our profession is being taken for granted by the very people who are supposed to uplift it. Surely, how can you pay a student teacher $150 a month or $65 as is the case with others and expect them to survive? We are doomed,” one student said.
The student teachers said the money was not enough to even take them to and from their work places.Soaring inflation has eroded salaries and wages of workers, with civil servants petitioning government to increase their salaries to match the interbank rate.
Prices of commodities and basic services have been on a continual sharp rise for the past few months, resulting in the poverty datum line (PDL) for an average family of five skyrocketing by 15,18% to $1 617 in July.
Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the salaries were abusive.“We don’t agree with government on the issue of student salaries. The salaries are abusive. What baffles the mind is that the same government is paying full salaries to police, nurses and army trainees but would not do that to student teachers,” he said.
Majongwe said teachers were very important in the country and should be treated with respect.“Their salary is very inadequate and this has led to the girl child ending up opting for immoral things such as prostitution,” he said.
“Government cannot be paying black Americans in New York to be partaking in demonstrations to protect them (Zanu PF) whereas civil servants here are suffering; therefore we put the government to blame for such inconveniences,” he said.
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He said they have tried to engage Finance minister Mthuli Ncube over the matter with little success.Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said they were fighting to restore the dignity of their profession.
“The fight is still ongoing concerning this problem and we are making frantic efforts to make sure that this profession becomes professionalised,” he said. Ndlovu said the practice by government should be put to an end as teachers were not ordinary people.
“It must be put to a stop because teachers cannot be treated like ordinary people. This is not fair; hence we demand that the government must treat student teachers like any other civil servants, for instance, the police force and the military,” he said.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said: “It is very regrettable that student teachers are working hard for the country, but they are not being recognised for their excellent work as compared to the police force and the military.”
Efforts to get comment from Primary and Secondary Education ministry secretary Tumisang Thabela were fruitless as her mobile number was continuously not reachable.
Primary and Secondary Education minister Paul Mavima was also not reachable for comment.