New Zimbabwe.com

Address Teachers Plight: PTUZ Begs Govt Again

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By Bulawayo Correspondent


TEACHERS have challenged the government to take advantage of the deferment on the opening of schools and address teachers’ meagre salaries and their living standards.

The teachers also want the government to look into their health and safety and of students when schools reopen amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

The government last week postponed the reopening of schools in 2022 as part of measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Only students who are returning to write the remainder of their 2021 Ordinary and Advanced level final examinations will return to school this week.

However, the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) says while teachers the government‘s decision to postpone the reopening of schools, they were concerned over their low salaries, and lack of commitment by the government to resolve the impasse.

“While the deferment of the opening of schools is welcome, it will be useless if the government does not use this period to engage teachers in meaningful dialogue, address their parlous salaries and conditions of service,” PTUZ president Takafira Zhou told NewZimbabwe.com.

“The government should also prioritise the health and safety of teachers and pupils by providing Covid-19 abatement equipment to schools, and testing teachers and pupils before conglomeration in schools. Any attempt to discard professional advice that we constantly give will be disastrous.”

Zhou described 2021 as the most “precipitous” year since 2008.

“We have indeed closed an old chapter and let us open a new chapter for the restoration of the purchasing power of teachers’ salaries pegged at US$540. That struggle is feasible if we exert all our energy in unison without fear or equivocation,” he said.

The PTUZ also urged the government to act on the exorbitant school fees pegged by some schools. Most schools are pushing for school fee increases of up to 300% to cushion them against the depreciating local currency.

“We projected schools would not open on 10 January given a myriad of challenges faced in schools such as exorbitant school fees, congestion in classes and hostels, and a quantum leap of Covid-19 cases,” he said.

“Teaching must be a sound business for the teachers in 2022, with education playing a vital cog of sustainable development in Zimbabwe.”