Teachers with disability demand US$75 Covid-19 allowances for aides
SENIOR STAFF WRITER
PHYSICALLY-CHALLENGED teachers are crying foul over government’s failure to pay their assistants the US$75 coronavirus (Covid-19) allowances being paid to all civil servants, saying the practice was discriminatory, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the country’s educators embarked on a nationwide boycott of classes since schools reopened last week, demanding salary payments in United States dollars and improved working conditions amid the Covid-19 pandemic that has so far killed over 200 Zimbabweans.
It also comes as teachers on Monday vowed to continue with their job action after their meeting with the government failed to yield any results as their employer did not bring an improved offer to the table.
Speaking to the Daily News after the meeting, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, PTUZ secretary for the physically-challenged, Abiot Moyo, said they expected their employer to treat their aides as equal civil servants.
“It is surprising that our assistants are not included in the Covid-19 allowances yet we were made to understand that it was a risk allowance since we are working in an environment that exposes us.
“We put it to the minister that one begins to question the discriminatory nature of the allowance as they are biased against the visually impaired and others living with other disabilities.
“The response from the Public Service minister (Paul Mavima) was quite encouraging because he promised to act on our complaint,” Moyo said.
He also said they had complained about how authorities deploy teachers with physical challenges to environs that are “even more disabling”.
“At the end of the day, all that is considered is whether we are producing results or not. Nobody even considers whether the environment we operate in is conducive for teachers who are physically challenged. The houses we use, the classrooms and other necessities are not user friendly,” said Moyo.
Mavima confirmed during yesterday’s post Cabinet media briefing that a national disability policy to address challenges being faced by persons living with disability was in the offing.
“The draft policy on national disability is ready and currently going through cabinet committee processes. After that it will be taken to a full cabinet for approval,” Mavima said.
Teachers with disability work with assistants who help them execute their duties efficiently while receiving payment from the government.
The government of Zimbabwe has faced criticism over the years for neglecting not only teachers but also learners with disabilities despite getting funding form UN Children’s Fund and other international donors to ensure the needs of disabled students and teachers are met.
The situation is still dire three years after Unicef launched the Education Transition Fund in 2009 in response to serious shortages of learning materials and supplies in schools.
According to a 2014 research by Leonard Cheshire Disability Zimbabwe Trust in schools in four districts in Mashonaland West Province meant to promote the provision of inclusive primary education for children with disabilities, there was a lack of training in special education needs.