Morale low as schools open

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THE first term of this year’s school calendar opened on a low note with teachers not attending to learners amid fears of a crippling strike by the education sector over salaries. A survey carried out by the Daily News in Harare yesterday showed that most schools, including Dominican Convent, Dzivaresekwa 1 High, Kuwadzana 2 High, Kuwadzana 5 Primary, Kuwadzana High 1, Mufakose 1 High, Highfi eld 1 High, Zengeza 2 High, Zengeza 1 and several others had full complements of teaching staff, but no learning took place as learners spent the whole day milling around or playing games. In the rural areas, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), which claims a membership of 5 820 teachers country
wide, said 82 percent of its members were not at work due to incapacitation. “Only 18 percent of our members attended class today because the majority of us are incapacitated. We gathered that our members in Matabeleland North recorded a three percent attendance rate and that goes to show that when we say teachers are incapacitated, we really mean that. “Parents we spoke to also revealed they are incapacitated and cannot pay the high fees being demanded by most schools. We expect that the call for a full throttle industrial action will be heeded and the evidence will be there for the authorities to see as the week progresses despite the intimidation reports we have received,” Artuz president Obert Masaraure said. Zimbabwe Teachers Associa
tion (Zimta) chief executive Sifi so Ndlovu also confi rmed the development in rural areas. “What I have observed is that rural schools have been affected more because teachers need transport to go back to work but owing to our situation, they have not been able to report for duty. I am, however, still to get a full report from our people on the ground,” Ndlovu said. This comes as government workers rejected an offer by the government last week to double their wages and amid reports that the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is planning a “mother-of-all” demonstrations to press the government to address key issues and reverse its “anti-poor people policies”. The offer of a 97 percent salary increment was immediately spurned by civil servants, who described it as an insult as it will not change their situation. The civil servants argued that the increment, which will see the lowest paid government worker being paid $2 033 while the highest pockets $2 985, does not
even form the basis of negotiations. On top of the salary increase, the government also gave its employees, across the board, a $750 cushioning allowance it had initially promised last month. Disgruntled civil servants have over the past few weeks been planning a massive industrial action in protest at the government’s failure to pay their salaries benchmarked to the interbank rate.

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