BY TAPFUMANEI MUCHABAIWA
FORMER Education minister David Coltart yesterday urged the government to drop its combative stance and engage teachers in sincere dialogue to save the public education sector.
Schools are supposed to open tomorrow, but teacher unions have said their members will not report for duty because of incapacitation.
Teachers want pre-2018 United States dollar salaries in the face of rising prices of goods and basics as the local currency slides.
Last week, Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the government was not worried about teacher threats not to report for duty arguing this was now a norm.
But Coltart said this showed that the government was not serious about addressing teacher welfare issues.
“The government needs to have an honest and sincere dialogue with the teachers’ unions.
“They must stop detaining and harassing teachers and start to listen to them,” Coltart said.
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“The minister of Finance (Mthuli Ncube) must be involved. He is going to have to agree to pay viable salaries to teachers in US dollars.
“There needs to be a fundamental realignment of the budget to accommodate this.
“The education sector is the most important component of Zimbabwe’s future.”
Schools were initially supposed to open last month for the first term, but the reopening was postponed over Covid-19 fears.
Parents urged the government and teachers’ to engage in sincere dialogue to find a lasting solution.
“Government should make sure that teachers are remunerated satisfactorily as this will improve the quality of education for our future leaders,” Edward Nyirongo, a parent said.
“The fact that teachers are preferring learners who attend their extra lessons shows that the poor will not make it in life no matter how gifted they are because if parents cannot afford the extra lessons guess what will happen to the child.”
Analyst Methuseli Moyo said parents were at the receiving end owing to the teacher-government stand-off.
“Clearly this is an issue of concern and anxiety for the parents as it should be for the government too,” Moyo said.
“Parents pay fees for their children to be taught on the other hand teachers are justified to demand their dues.”