Teachers want negotiations with government and other stakeholders in the education sector to address their conditions of service most importantly, their salaries, before the re-opening of schools set for 15 and 22 March 2021, respectively.

“The government should restore the purchasing power of teachers’ salaries to pre-October 2018 level (i.e. 520-550 USD or its equivalence in RTGS). The government should never take this issue as nugatory because incapacitation among teachers is real.

“Only a miracle will see teachers reporting for duty if the government fails to address this issue,” teachers’ unions under the Federation of Zimbabwe Education Unions said in a statement recently.

They demand that their employer should correct what they call the unfair salary discrepancies currently obtaining between teachers and other government workers, especially those in the security sector, or else they won’t return to classes.

The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) voiced the same sentiments, saying;

“We have reminded the government of the urgent need to capacitate teachers ahead of schools opening. All relevant Ministries and departments have been notified. We pray the government will play ball so that we don’t disadvantage our valuable learners.”

According to them, last time, junior soldiers earned more than 27000 RTGS while the entry point for teachers is slightly above 14000 RTGS. The teachers emphasised that this is not to say 27000 RTGS for soldiers is enough, but that difference is a sure ingredient for industrial disharmony.

They also called on the government to put in place enough Covid-19 prevention modalities to ensure the safety of teachers, learners, and ancillary staff, in line with the guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO).

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, recently announced the lifting of Level 4 national lockdown restrictions paving way for the reopening of schools starting from 15-22 March 2021.

Responding to the schools’ re-opening announcement, president of ARTUZ, Obert Masaraure pointed out that the government did not consult other parties thus; both the teachers and parents on the strategy they intend to implement when they open schools.

“As the president of ARTUZ I want to clearly state that the government is going ahead with opening schools without addressing the fundamental issues –like the incapacitation crisis of teachers.

“The teachers’ welfare that need to be addressed quickly and also the syllabus compression plan may not adequately work if not properly handled -particularly in respect of motivating the teacher” Masaraure said.

Meanwhile, the welfare of teachers has been a bone of contention between civil servants, particularly teachers and their employer, amid reports that the government is awarding those in the security sector, soldiers, police and CIOs secret pay rises.