Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe has accused the government of being scandalous to its response to the plight of teachers.
With schools set to reopen next Monday after a nearly six-month break due to the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers in public schools are demanding a review of their salaries and working conditions.
However, addressing the media Tuesday after a marathon meeting between nine teachers' unions and government, Majongwe described the response from the employer as a scandal and criminal.
"I think the government is taking teachers for granted. We are in a situation where a police officer trained in two weeks earns more than a teacher with more than 25 years of teaching experience," he said.
"That in itself is a scandal. It is criminal, to say the least. The government is simply saying teachers are worth nothing.
"Can these issues be addressed? Can the government be sensitive to reality and be professional to these patriotic men and women who are serving the country very well. It will be naive and preposterous if not madness if this situation is allowed to continue. We are talking of teachers who are trained but at the end of the day, there is no benefit," Majongwe.
Addressing the same media briefing Phiri Rengani, the Zimbabwe Union of Teachers (TUZ) said: "We do not have money for food, transport, underwear, clothing. How can you manage? How are we going to travel, the going back to school costs are very high?
"How are we going to live? It is quite clear we are not demonstrating or whatever. Teachers are just saying we cannot manage."
Turning to schools' preparedness as they reopen, Goodwill Taderera from the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association (ZIMTA) said training for the Covid-19 handling in schools has been haphazard.
"The training on Covid-19 in schools has been haphazard. Training schedules have been dropped, let alone the number that has been trained, I think is just a drop in the ocean. It looks like the government wants to repair an airplane in flight. That is catastrophic."
Taderera called on the government to declare 2020 a lost year and start afresh in the 2021 school calendar at whatever level.
"Government is pushing for certain exam classes so that they make it pass over. That automatic learning they want to see grade sevens going into secondary schooling and upper six students going into university yet there has been no investment or learning in between. This year must be considered a lost year," he added.