Teachers earning low salaries is certainly not unique to Zimbabwe. However, the country is now facing a shortage of teachers due to poor conditions.
Zimbabwe Faces A Teaching Crisis
In 2011, a study was undertaken to establish why Zimbabwean teachers were demotivated and what could be done to address the issues. Poor working conditions, inadequate accommodation, overworking, being disrespected and victimised, feelings of not being sufficiently trained to deal with special needs children and a lack of technological skills were issues cited by teachers.
These issues led to low morale, poor teaching and teachers leaving the profession. The recommendations included restoring teachers’ dignity and increasing their salaries. To date these issues have not been addressed and schoolteachers are on strike, hoping that before classes for 2022 resume, the government will address low salaries and conditions of service.
Increase Long Overdue
The president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Takavafira Zhou, said that the promise an increase in teachers’ salaries to US$540 is long overdue. Zhou also stated that teachers are demanding to be exempt from paying school fees for their children if they attend government schools, citing the massive discrepancy between current teacher salaries and exorbitant school fees.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union (ARTUZ) declared a 12-day strike over what Obert Masaraure the president of ARTUZ refers to as “slave wages that have reduced us into destitutes.” 16 teachers from ARTUZ were arrested after holding a peaceful demonstrating and spent a weekend in jail. Their main grievance is to be paid a liveable salary equating to R10 000.00. Obert Masaraure, among those arrested, said that although they were arrested, their minds are still free, and they will not give up until their demands are met.
The ARTUZ members were charged with intending to promote public violence and to breach the peace but when bail was posted and the 16 were released, the judge said that they were not a threat to the public and nobody was injured during the protest.
A teacher who has recently retired after 23 years in a Zimbabwean government school and who received the princely sum of ZW$28 000 (R2 100) stated that had she retired in 2015, she would have been paid in US dollars and received a decent amount of money. She took early retirement to go and work in the United Kingdom where she plans on enrolling in a nurse aid course and can earn as much money as a big win at playlive casino.
She feels that she has 15 more good years of work left in her, but she has no intention of working in her home country unless the situation changes drastically. Although she loves teaching, she is unable to support her family on a teacher’s salary and she is excited at the prospect of being able to earn more in 1 year in the UK than she has ever earned in 23 years as a teacher in Zimbabwe.
The need to minimise the brain drain in Zimbabwe cannot be over-emphasised. Excellent teachers are vital in determining the quality of education, the motivation levels and the performance of students. If we want our teachers to stop seeking better employment opportunities overseas, we have to pay attention to their demands.