Teachers moot crippling strike

HARARE - As schools open for the third term today, students sitting for end of year public examinations face an uncertain future.

Underpaid teachers say they are planning a crippling strike, most likely in October when examinations are due.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou said government should “do something” to improve teacher morale to avoid a strike action that could disturb exam classes.

“Teachers’ minimum expectations are salaries that are in line with the poverty datum line currently above $550 as well as their traditional bonuses or the government ought to brace for an industrial action before the commencement of Grade 7, Ordinary level and Advanced level national public examinations,” said Zhou.

Civil servants are earning an average of $300 and they have constantly lobbied government to review their salaries upwards. Government says it is too broke to afford such salaries.

Zhou said the recently completed national census had already short-changed students hence the need for government to compensate for lost time.

“The mid-year 2012 local examinations were hurriedly administered and marked by teachers due to the panic approach that characterised the just ended national census,” he said.

“It would be callous and unfair for this government not to act in a manner that will help to avoid any more time wastage to children’s learning,” he said.

Schools closed early last term and many schools failed to conduct their traditional holiday lessons as teachers were tied up with the census process.

PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said the school term would start normally as teachers wait for government and umbrella civil servants union, the Apex Council, to come up with a solution.

“We are consulting our members and a more pronounced position will be out on the World Teacher’s Day on October 5. There are so many other players in the business now, Zimta, the Apex Council, which we have to resonate with,” said Majongwe.

“But it is obvious that striking is inevitable, with no increment for civil servants while on the other hand parliamentarians have agreed to share $8 million. So we can only be fools if we keep quiet,” he said.

Parents who spoke to the Daily News yesterday said though school fees had remained largely unchanged, they were struggling to raise the required amounts ahead of the commencement of the term.

“Students always have a one month school holiday. I have only those 31 days to raise $1 000 in school fees for my three children plus around $500 for groceries, pocket money, transport and stationery,” said a parent Shepherd Makusha.

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