MASVINGO – Chaos reigned supreme at Masvingo Teachers’ College on Friday after primary school teachers protested against a paltry $2 they were offered for marking this year’s Grade Seven national exams.
The teachers flatly refused to accept the measly $2 from Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) officials, who in turn threatened the protesting teachers that they would lose their jobs if they rejected the offer.
Zimsec is an autonomous parastatal under the ministry of Education that claims that it is an internationally accredited examinations board.
There was pandemonium after some teachers started shouting and walking out of the room where the payment was being made in protest, prompting Zimsec officials from the Masvingo regional offices to hawk job loss threats.
The teachers, out of fear of losing their jobs, gave in and accepted the cash after being forced to call off the protest.
Fuming teachers said the payment was a “mockery” to their profession.
“We finished marking the exams on Friday and were based at Masvingo Teachers College,” one marker told the Daily News, pleading for anonymity.
“We were paid a paltry $2 for the job we did for 11 days. We were shocked by this as we usually get paid handsomely for doing such a job every year.”
Over the past year, teachers would be paid $200 for marking national exams and the job could take up to two weeks.
Slivanos Dandiro, Masvingo Zimsec regional manager, said: “Firstly I would want to put it clear to you that there was no chaos at all but there were some teachers who were disgruntled over the amount of money they got.
“They were paid $2 but it’s not all they will get. Something is coming from government through Zimsec and they will get more but we cannot discuss the amount in the Press.”
But teachers insisted that the Zimsec officials told them that the amount was all they will get.
“You know that our salaries are pathetic so whenever we are included in such programmes we feel that we got the chance to compliment our dismal wages but we were disappointed by this year’s amount,” another teacher who preferred anonymity said.
Other teachers threatened to boycott marking exam papers in future if the exam body does not make reasonable remuneration.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president, Takavafira Zhou lambasted government for taking teachers for a ride and warned of massive future boycotts.
“As PTUZ we totally condemn such kind of abuse on professionals,” Zhou said.
“We urge the ministry of Education to intervene and make sure that Zimsec honours its contractual obligations. We want to warn Zimsec that such a tendency of abusing teachers will result in the organisation mobilising teachers so that they stop participating in Zimsec duties.”