Govt must deal with grievances raised by teachers

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A joint strike by teachers and nurses

SCHOOLS open today for all students after the extended closure necessitated by rising COVID-19 infections, but the same old problems that have plugged the system remain.

The impasse between government and the teachers remains unresolved and it appears likely to be so for a long time. Teachers want their salaries pegged at US$520 which they were getting per month pre-October 2018 to counter inflationary pressures pushing up prices of goods and services as the value of the Zimbabwe dollar continues to slide.

They have been asking their employer — as has been the entire public sector — for a review of their working conditions and salaries as the Zimdollar fails to maintain its value on a daily basis while prices spike in an attempt to keep parity.

So far, government has arrogantly refused to listen. Last week, Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the government was not worried about teachers’ threats not to report for duty, saying that it was now the norm.

Since when has it become normal for teachers to abscond from school because they are too hungry? Why is this government so insensitive to the needs of its workers, parents and the students?

The situation is rapidly escalating. In the past, the government has relied on school heads to enforce some sort of discipline, but as per an account in our lead report today, they too are feeling the pinch and now say they are also incapacitated.

The Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads (Zinush) secretary general Munyaradzi Majoni said salaries of school heads, at around $30 000 per month plus US$75 COVID-19 allowance were not enough to meet their requirements.

They want government to revert to the pre-October 2018 salary.

“Reports coming from our members in the 10 provinces clearly show that they are largely incapacitate to go to work apart from the fact that the majority of them are failing to raise fees for their own children. In the current circumstances, our members may not be available in schools on February 7, 2022 as expected by our employer and neither will they be able to comply with the usual demand for statistics and other details on the state of schools,” Majoni says.

It boggles the mind why government is allowing the situation to worsen when the two parties can negotiate and reach common ground. It does the State no good to be combative against the majority of its employees and put the future of this country — the young people — at stake.

The government needs to deal with the issues raised by teachers seriously instead of compromising the quality of education in the country by being intransigent.