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Zimbabwe Government Postpones Return To School For Two Weeks

The government is putting off the reopening of schools until late January citing delays in the marking of last year's ordinary and advanced exam papers, but other sources said that the decision had as much to do with fiscal shortfalls and a salary dispute with teachers.

The state-controlled Herald newspaper on Wednesday quoted Education Ministry Permanent Secretary Stephen Mahere as saying “a significant number” of teachers will be tied up marking the exams. But ministry sources said the decision also had to do with the lack of a 2009 budget and demands by the country's teachers to be paid in hard currency.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association wants a starting salary for teachers of US$2,293 and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe wants a monthly salary of US$2,500.

PTUZ Secretary Raymond Majongwe told reporter Jonga Kandemiiri of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the ministry has made the wrong decision in putting off the opening of school as it did not consult with all stakeholders.

Correspondent Martin Ngwenya reported that some parents in rural Mtshabezi, Matabeleland South, are providing incentives to impoverished teachers to encourage them to stay in the classroom, paying them in kind to overcome the general collapse of education.

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