Many Zimbabwean teachers and parents of students are at odds over the reduction of supplementary payments or incentives by the School Development Association, which said it reduced the payments following an increase in state teacher salaries.
Education Minister David Coltart had encouraged parents to make incentive payments to teachers at a time when the system was still recovering from a deep crisis.
The state-run Herald newspaper said teachers at Prince Edward High School walked out this week to protest the reduction of incentives from US$300 to about US$50. Sources said teachers at Kuwadzana 6 Primary School saw theirs cut to $150 from $200.
Surprisingly, one of the country's main teachers unions opposes the incentive system.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association Chief Executive Sifiso Ndlovu told VOA reporter Violet Gonda that incentives are divisive. He said teachers are misdirecting their anger.
He said: “In as far as it concerns the development of education it is a policy that you cannot sustain for a long time and is likely to cause this confusion.”
“I am not going to support a teacher who finds himself fighting the parent because if he fights the parent that means he is no longer fighting the real employer (the government) to get better salaries," Ndlovu said.
Parent Kurauone Chihwayi said he and others were happy to pay the incentives to keep teachers in classrooms and motivate them - but said the program is unsustainable.
He said some teachers are now demanding additional fees on top of the incentives.
Others charged that the incentive system has diverted the attention of teachers so that they give short shrift to pupils regular classes and allocate more time to tutoring.