SW Radio Africa (London)

22 May 2014

Zimbabwe: Teachers to Lose 3 Months' Wages in New Zanu-PF Plans

Under new ZANU PF plans teachers will not receive any wages for the school holiday months when they are not teaching.

Traditionally schools in Zimbabwe close in April, August and December to give learners a break. If the government goes ahead with its plan, teachers will lose around $1,500 per year.

The proposals are part of several others which include installing cameras in classrooms as well as forcing schools to conduct sporting activities at weekends.

Any teacher without Maths, Science or English at 'O' Level will lose their job unless they write and pass these subjects within a set time frame.

Education Minister Lazarus Dokora is spearheading these proposals as part of a review that he says is aimed at improving standards in the sector.

Since taking over last year Dokora has banned teachers from complementing their low wages by offering holiday lessons. He has also stopped the payment of incentives, which was a way of persuading teachers to remain in the profession.

Teachers say the minister is out to destroy education, once the country's pride and joy, and have demanded a meeting with President Robert.

Alarmed teachers say they will be meeting soon to discuss the planned changes.

Raymond Majongwe, secretary-general of the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe, told this station that the proposals were "overzealous" and "madness".

Majongwe said the 14,000 teachers who are part of his union will not "sit back" while the minister goes ahead with his changes.

"It is clear that this government does not respect teachers. Teachers are constantly getting a raw deal just because ZANU PF suspects we do not support it.

"We are just waiting for Mugabe to return from Singapore and if our concerns are not addressed to our satisfaction, we will go on strike," Majongwe said.

The ZANU PF government has been struggling to pay the country's 230,000 civil servants since it assumed total control through the widely discredited 2013 polls.

Teachers get an average salary of $500 a month. An average family in the country requires $560 every month for basic commodities.

According to Jesina Muvekwa, a US-based Zimbabwean student and a campaigner for children's rights to education, the government should commit more resources to education if the standards are to improve.

She also called on the government to respect teachers and acknowledge the important work they do by treating them with respect.

Speaking on the Big Picture Programme, Muvekwa said: "The government should work with teachers as partners and not as just public servants because these are the people who drive the education sector.

"This also includes improving the quality of training that the teachers get to ensure that it reflects the needs of the country as well as global trends," she said.

Another education advocate, Isaac Jonas, said improving the security of learners and their teachers should be part of Education Minister Dokora's proposed changes.

At the moment many children are missing out on even basic education, which by right they should have access to, because the government is failing to provide the resources.

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