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Zimbabwe Schools Set To Reopen Amid Confusion, Wage Demands

Primary and secondary schools across Zimbabwe were to re-open on Tuesday, but there was widespread confusion among parents and even some teachers as to the starting date, with many convinced the return to classrooms was not to happen until a week later.

But the Ministry of Education confirmed that schools would open on Tuesday, September 2.

Sources in Harare said the Mbare Musika and Fourth Street bus terminals were quiet Monday with few children and teachers boarding buses back to their respective schools.

Some parents told VOA they had made no back-to-school preparations because the reports their children brought home last term indicated schools would open September 9.

National Education Director Thomas Machingaidze said the Education Ministry issued a press statement informing the public that schools would open a week earlier to make up for time lost during the country's extended and turbulent March-June election period.

Teachers, meanwhile, were threatening to strike, demanding another increase in salaries to offset the effects of inflation officially measured at 11.2 million percent in July.

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe was demanding a monthly minimum salary equivalent to US$979. Officials of the rival Zimbabwe Teachers Association were to meet later this week discuss and set their organization's position on wages.

The highest paid teachers now earn some Z$1,475 in redenominated Zimbabwe dollars - or Z$14.75 trillion before the central bank lopped off 10 zeros last month.

Progressive Teachers Union General Secretary Raymond Majongwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the confusion about the date for schools to reopen reflected communication problems in the Ministry of Education.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...