Zimbabwean Education Minister David Coltart met Tuesday with teachers union leaders to discuss incentives paid to teachers by parents and local school associations to top off very low salaries, concluding that such a payments system is not sustainable.
Coltart and the unions did not agreed to end such incentives, but agreed that a meeting involving parents, students and teachers should be held next month on the issue. Some teachers recently staged informal work stoppages to protest reduced incentives.
Coltart called the crisis meeting after union leaders blamed him for maintaining a policy that had produced inequality and dissatisfaction among teachers as those in rural areas do not receive such payments, some urban parents cannot afford to make them.
Teachers in urban schools receive between $150 and $400 in incentives depending on their schools, plus a monthly salary of more than $300 from the government.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association Chief Executive Sifiso Ndlovu said the meeting coming up is likely to propose re-introducing rural allowances to equalize salaries, cut back on incentives, or urge the government to increase teacher salaries across the board.
Education Minister Coltart said his ministry agrees with the unions, but said incentives should not be scrapped until another solution to low salaries in place. Otherwise, said the minister, the quality of public education could be compromised.
Coltart said he hoped the stakeholders meeting on incentives will make recommendations that his ministry can integrate into its national education policies.