Teachers’ salaries are grossly inadequate while the impasse between the government and the former has not been resolved for a long time, a recent Parliament of Zimbabwe study has shown.
The lowest paid teacher in the country earns about ZWL$28, 600 which is an equivalent of approximately US$211 according to the parallel market exchange rate.
The joint report of the portfolio committee on primary and secondary education and public service, labour and social welfare on the petition from teachers unions on teacher’s welfare was tabled before the National Assembly last Thursday.
Schools reopened today for the examination classes while the rest are set to return to school next Monday under the government’s phased programme as part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The educators were reportedly planning to embark on industrial action on the opening day of schools.
“The impasse between the government and teachers has not been resolved for a long time. Teachers are clearly demotivated and prefer to conduct extra lessons or other moonlighting activities from which they earn foreign currency payments.”
The teachers’ conditions of service, according to the report, improved during the inclusive government period between 2008 and 2013.
“Engagement between teachers unions and the Public Service and Government has always been centred on salaries, which has overcrowded other broader issues relating to conditions of service,” says the report.
The report says teachers have been very clear with where the problems are.
“I think if both the teachers and government listen to each other, we may be able to address some of the problems that are there without necessarily creating the toxicity that is associated with both parties being political,” says the report.
“We have continued to raise this with the unions that they need to ensure when they engage with the government they are engaging from a non-political point of view. Sometimes you do not get to be heard if you are seemingly speaking a language that turns out to be partisan.”
Of the 200 000 civil servants, 140 000 are teachers.
“Government should call for an urgent meeting with the Civil Service Workers Union to discuss the current negotiating framework, including its shortfall and explore the possibility of coming up with a framework that favours the majority of civil servants by 31st August, 2021,” recommends the report.