Depressing reports of sexual misconduct, teenage boozing and bullying amongst pupils have rocked Zimbabwe schools which opened last week as the country’s teachers have defiantly disregarded threats by the Government to fire them in the event that they continued with their strike.
A local publication has established that the most affected learning institutions where acts of misconduct were rife are boarding schools, with rogue learners taking advantage of the absence of their teachers to engage in sexual ‘gang bangs’ and booze, amongst other ills.
As if that is not enough, the students are also in the habit of recording video footages while engaging in interdicted activities, using their smartphones before posting the videos on social media.
Various social networking platforms have, in the past week, been bloated with footages and images of school pupils engaging in acts of sexual misconduct- an issue Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema has professed ignorance about.
After a Covid19 induced six-month hiatus, Zimbabwean schools reopened for the Third Term Monday last week, starting with the 2020 examination classes.
However, despite the reopening of schools on Monday 28 September 2020, the country’s teachers have declared incapacitation and defiantly refused to return back to work until their employer- the Public Service Commission (PSC)- give in to their demands for the restoration of the pre-2018 monthly salaries pegged at US$540.
Teachers in Zimbabwe currently earn not more than US$35 per month and talks with their employer to improve their remuneration have failed to bear fruit and last week, the teachers vowed that they were not going to return back to their workplaces despite Government offering a 40% salary increase.
Minister Mathema yesterday evening told Zwnews that he was not aware of the alleged acts of sexual misconduct, bullying and alcohol abuse amongst the pupils in schools.
“I don’t know anything about that. Infact, I am just hearing this from you,” said Ambassador Mathema.
The under fire Education Minister also dismissed reports that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s embattled Government was planning to close the schools as they continue to face defiance from the incapacitated civil servants.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta)- the biggest of the nine major teacher representative unions in the country- has urged its members not to bow down to the continued threats of job losses and persistent intimidation from the Government.
The Government has threatened that all striking teachers were going to be replaced by their ‘qualified but unemployed’ colleagues if they continued with their downing of tools.
“Intimidation is always there in struggles but doesn’t kill, hence it should not worry you,” Zimta said yesterday.
“How can 25 000 teachers replace 130 000 teachers and to add to that, in phase 3 of reopening schools, we need double the purported figure of replacements to be in line with Covid19 regulations.
“We communicated to the employer that all Zimta members are incapacitated and the 14 days policy does not affect you,” said the association.