Striking teachers have called on the government to table a better salary deal for them to return to work, failure of which will further put the education sector in serious jeopardy.
Teachers across the country have been on industrial action since schools opened on Monday citing poor remuneration and government's failure to provide adequate COVID-19 equipment.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert told 263Chat that there was a need for genuine negotiations between the disgruntled teachers and the government.
"Government should come through with an offer which genuinely resolves the salary crisis. We won't be participating in pity parties disguised as negotiations.
"School Heads are also excusing themselves from our schools. The component of teachers logging in averages 2% across the country. 98% of our teachers have completely withdrawn from the schools," he said.
Masaraure noted that the current situation will negatively affect exam classes who had returned to school following the relaxation of COVID-19 lockdown regulations which allowed pupils writing their final November exams to restart their lessons.
"Our education is in a serious crisis, November 2020 candidates won't be ready for examinations in December. The government should urgently convene education stakeholders to resolve the ensuing crisis," he further stated.
Teachers continue to send a bold message that they will not be going to be cowed by empty threats.
Masaraure confirmed that few teachers who reported for duty on opening day are now leaving schools to join the majority who are still at home.
"Parents are now withholding learners at home fearing for the safety of their children. Learners in boarding schools are spending time in between hostels and dining halls, there is no classroom activity. We still have teachers who are consistently logging in but they are not teaching," he said.
In a statement, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said the government must improve their salaries without delay.
"If it's a meeting between the government and a united front of teacher unions over the current dispute of right over the unilateral reduction of teachers' salaries from US$550 to US$35, thereby eroding the purchasing power parity of the salaries of teachers, we support it," reads the statement.
However, the government seems unbothered by the threats as recently the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Cain Mathema professed ignorance over the strike.
"I am yet to receive a report on why teachers are on strike, but public schools opened officially yesterday," he said.