MASSIVE corruption has hit the education sector with district education officials reportedly demanding various amounts to interview temporary teachers to fill in vacant posts. The education officials are charging the desperate untrained teachers amounts ranging between US$5 and US$10 as interview fees in addition to the US$5 they charge for application forms. The application forms should be given for free. The situation is rampant in Masvingo, Midlands, and Mashonaland Central.
Interviewed untrained teachers yesterday said the officials were also demanding amounts as much as US$300 as kickbacks to secure job placements for the relief teachers or educators seeking transfers to areas with better working conditions. Most of them said they had failed to meet the demands.
Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart yesterday said any official caught charging those amounts would be discharged from duty.
"There is no entitlement for any education official to charge any fees when conducting those interviews," he said.
"This is corruption at its highest level and while many people are afraid to report the cases, we urge them to come forward with the names of those officials. Government will not hesitate to dismiss them from duty," he said.
He said temporary teachers were important to the education sector as they were "filling a gap."
"We have got a shortfall of teachers and it does not make sense to drive them away using such corrupt tendencies," he said.
Zimbabwe has a shortfall of close to 14 000 as it employs about 97 000 teachers against a demand of 111 000.
An untrained teacher from Masvingo who recently went for the interviews said he was turned away after failing to pay the U$10 interview fees.
"I am looking for a job to get money but it does not make sense if I am forced to pay money upfront to Government officials," he said.
"These officials are not employment agencies who charge certain amounts for us to get employment. More than 100 teachers might apply when the district has less than 20 vacant places."
Another untrained teacher from Murehwa said they were made to buy application forms, which should be given for free.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Mr Takavafira Zhou confirmed receiving such complaints from their members fingering district education officials.
Zimbabwe has turned to temporary teachers to fill the huge gap created by the migration of qualified teachers at the height of the country's economic challenges.