Some teachers in Zimbabwe say they won’t return to school for the 2020 first quarter due to low salaries and poor working conditions.
Members of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) say they have informed the government about their intentions to stay home when schools open on January 14th.
ARTUZ president, Obert Masaraure, says the government has not yet responded to their grievances that include a cost of living adjustment pegged on the current interbank market rates.
Teachers are currently earning less than US$200 per month in a nation with an estimated hyperinflation rate of up to 450%.
Masaraure says, “Our salaries are too low for our members to return to work. We won’t be able to go to work due to incapacitation. Teachers are no longer able to go to work.
“To make matters worse, parents can’t afford to purchase uniforms and stationary for their children and the government is failing to source money for the Basic Education Access Model for poor students.”
Parents are also feeling the pinch of hyperinflation saying they have no money to send children to school.
One of them, Nhlanhla Dawu, says it is worrying that schools have increased fees and other charges when they are struggling to make ends meet.
“I’m not yet ready to send my children to school because l don’t have the money to pay for their fees, stationary and other basic items. I have a child at St. Patrick’s School where school fees has been increased from 160 Zimbabwe dollars to $888. We are supposed to make top ups of up to $728. We simply don’t earn that money and as such we won’t be able to pay it.
“I also made some calculations based on the current prices of stationary like exercise books and additional material and indications are that l need to raise at least $400 per child. That’s impossible.”
The government has urged schools not to send home children who won’t pay fees on the first day of the school year.