THE government said that it will sternly punish teachers taking part in the strike and destroying public property, as well as threatening those who have refused to join the illegal action.
The Minister for Education and Vocational Training, Dr Shukuru Kawambwa, said his ministry has received reports of threats and violence acts against teachers who refused to join the strike, which started all over the country on Monday.
"We are warning those issuing the threats, destroying property and beating up teachers who have refused to engage in the strike. The government will take stern measures against them," he told a news conference. The warning came amid reports of the strike-linked chaos in Tunduma and Mbozi in Mbeya and Rukwa regions.
Dr Kawambwa also advised parents and guardians to ensure students are not exploited by the striking teachers to engage in the ongoing conflict between the government and teachers. "The strike has nothing to do with students, it is between the government and the teachers, we have also received reports that students are used in destroying property and causing chaos," he added.
The Minister noted that the government takes demands forwarded by teachers seriously and it will find a solution to their demands, adding that the Tanzania Teachers' Union (TTU) acted in haste. He said the government values the education sector, including ensuring better welfare of teachers.
"We all would not be here, if it were not for the teachers. This is a sector that touches our lives, we did manage to solve the teachers' outstanding arrears issue, we will be able to address this issue with time," Dr Kawambwa noted. He noted that those engaging in the striking will not receive their pay as stipulated by the Job and Work Relation Act No 6 of 2004.
He said section 83(4) of the law, which allows for the shortest process, notes that "the employer will not be bound to pay salary to an employee engaged in a strike for the whole duration of the strike". A spot check the Minister conducted yesterday morning in Dar es Salaam, including Tambaza, Muhimbili and Oyster bay secondary schools, showed that teachers were in the classes.
He however noted that his ministry had received preliminary reports that teachers in some schools in Kilimanjaro, Arusha, Mbeya, Tunduma, Kigoma, Iringa Municipality, Kagera have joined the strike. Dr Kawambwa said when the government and TTU was deliberating on the matter with the Commissioner of Mediation and Arbitration (CMA) there were messages circulating encouraging teachers to strike if the government fails to address their issues.
A spot check by 'Daily News' yesterday in some schools including Tumaini and Kawe A Primary schools in Kawe and Ukombozi in Manzese showed that all the teachers had joined the strike. Only head teachers were found manning Standard I to VII on their own. Tumaini and Kawe A had 3 and 1 teaching which was being done by volunteer teachers assisted by Std VII pupils.
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Mr Saidi Meck Sadiki, has ordered District Executive Directors (DEDs) to institute disciplinary measures against the striking teachers.
Mr Sadiki told a news conference that the strike was illegal because over 90 per cent of Dar es Salaam based primary and secondary schools' teachers did not vote for the move.
"I call upon the striking teachers to stop persuading students to stage demonstrations and stern measures will be taken against any teacher found persuading students to stage demonstration," he said. Mr Sadiki said the yesterday's teachers' attendance showed most teachers including some leaders of the Teachers' Union reported to work, saying it was contempt of court to take part in the strike.
Reports from Rukwa show that while teachers in the region went on strike on Monday, five leaders from CWT from Mpanda District in Katavi region have been arrested by Police in Mpanda District accusing them of inciting teachers to strike.
A spot check to nearly all schools in Sumbawanga Municipality carried out by 'Daily News' on Monday revealed that only few teachers had reported and signed and thereafter left for home while many others decided not to report at all.
According to the Katavi Regional Police Commander, Mr Dhahiri Kidavashari, five suspects were arrested on Sunday evening for allegedly moving around several streets with powerful loud-speakers urging teachers to go on strike. The RPC named them as Issack Martine, CWT Mpanda District's Chairperson, Nicodemus Waivyala, CWT's Secretary, Ms Asha Juma, CWT's women representative, Emmanuel Kabale, a CWT's accountant and Paul Guyashi.
Reports from Arusha show that primary and Secondary School Teachers in Arusha Municipality yesterday went on strike. The Acting Municipal Education Officer, Mr Enock Mmari, admitted that indeed the teachers' strike was affecting education and overall school activities in the City but claimed that there were still a number of teachers who reported for work.
A survey conducted by the 'Daily News' yesterday in Mwanza indicated that some primary and secondary schools participated, while others were reluctant to join. Some teachers at Mbugani Primary School, Milongo, Nyakabungo, Nyamagana, and Mbugani in Ilemela district were found not teaching, while some of the secondary schools such, as Pamba, Mwanza secondary schools were in a go-slow.
The pupils at Nyakabungo primary school, for example, were very few, while others were seen roaming on the streets. "Our teachers have just told us there are no classes today and thus we can just go back home. We don't know what is really happening," said one of the pupils, found at Pamba Road.