Teachers want COVID-19 risk allowance


TEACHERS have demanded to be paid a COVID-19 risk allowance when schools eventually open, according to submissions to the Education ministry by the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ).


The Education ministry has invited submissions from teacher unions and other stakeholders on the issue of learning in the face of COVID-19 and measures to take when schools open for the second term.

In its submissions dated April 26, PTUZ said a risk allowance for teachers was non-negotiable as the educators were at high risk through interactions with tens of students from different backgrounds daily.

“The government should pay a meaningful risk allowance to teachers since they are frontline workers in the fight against the disease since it is a non-contestable fact that teachers interact with thousands of children from a diversity of backgrounds per day,” PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe wrote.

“We want to state without any equivocation that our members are not prepared to take the risk of teaching classes with more than 20 learners for nothing as the consequences are dire. As a union, it would be an abdication of responsibility if we sacrifice the lives of our members at the altar of national expediency.”

Indications are that schools opening will be pushed back by more weeks or months, with the PTUZ suggesting a mid-July review of the prevailing situation before a final decision could be made.
There have been suggestions of virtual learning, but the digital divide among learners in the rural and urban set-up makes it impossible, educators have argued.

The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council has revealed that it has been forced to push back the June examinations by a month in the face of the COVID-19 scare.

“It would be grossly irresponsible for the government to re-open schools at a time when it is not clear whether we are moving forward, backward or stationary in terms of managing the novel disease,” Majongwe added as the PTUZ warned against “exhibiting Dutch courage” towards a disease that has knocked economies and health systems globally.