Zimbabwe’s schools reopened Monday, but without many of their teachers.
These educators refuse to return to their classrooms, saying their salaries do not allow them to buy groceries and cover their accommodation costs, school fees for their children and transport to work.
In a bid to push educators back to work, Zimbabwe’s government Tuesday announced a series of measures taken to accommodate educators’ pleas, including a 20 percent raise, $100 U.S Dollars cash, school fees for three biological children, housing loans and tax exemption on imported vehicles.
But the head of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Obert Masaraure, says attempts by the government are unsatisfactory.
“We reject the 20 percent offer from government, it doesn’t meet the demands of teachers, it doesn’t meet our expectations as a profession,” says Masaraure.
Masaraure adds, “We are not asking for an increment, we are asking for the restoration of pre-October 2018 salaries that were arbitrarily withdrawn from us by the employer and we have gone for five years hoping that maybe at some point the government will restore our salaries.”
Education experts worry that the standoff between Zimbabwe’s government and educators, piled on by the COVID-19 pandemic which caused long school closures, will affect the nation’s student proficiencies.
John Warure, a parent to two students says teachers returning to the classroom would be of great relief to parents nationwide. He adds that this has to be resolved by concerted engagement on both sides.
“As a concerned parent, I would urge the government to stop this politicking issue and adequately address the demands of the teachers,” says Warure.
Warure adds, “This can be done through consultative, not unilateral process like what has been done.”