By Leopold Munhende
“MISERY Day” is how the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) described this month’s payday after most teachers received about $28 000 in salaries, which translates to only US$140 on the black market.
The US dollar is trading at US$1: $200 on the black market.
Teachers are involved in a long standoff with the government over their salaries.
“This should be regarded as a Misery Day. The supposed pay is a mockery, I have a family of three children and what I got is only enough for food,” one teacher said.
“I am stressed right now. I have rent to pay and how am I going to pay this? The fact is that we cannot even pay for the services we offer to our children. Teachers are suffering. Would you want a hungry teacher, a teacher in my situation to teach your child? Do you think they teach whole-heartedly?”
ARTUZ is on its 9th of 12 Days of Action for Education.
The tiff between teachers and government worsened after Education Ministry communications director Taungana Ndoro said the government was unmoved by teachers going on strike.
He added there many people who are capable of invigilating the final public national examinations, which start this month.
“We value all teachers who will not boycott invigilation as they are cognisant that their reward for the service is the happiness and satisfaction they will derive in being recognised by their learners even years after they benefited from their teaching and invigilation,” Ndoro said.
“These two aspects — delight and recognition — are possible only if teachers are committed to their profession at a level that is beyond the influence of remuneration.”
However, teachers argue they are being forced to survive on vending and other menial jobs to make ends meet while Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube says Treasury is realising a surplus in revenue collection.
“We call upon the citizens to rally behind teachers who are demanding a living wage. We further implore the citizens to demand the restoration of the dignity of the teaching profession,” ARTUZ president Obert Masaraure told NewZimbabwe.com.
“Teachers have a lot of options at their disposal in the face of underpayment, some are resigning. Unfortunately for our children, they have limited options. They will be in the classrooms, waiting for an incapacitated teacher.
“If parents are not able to stand for the future of their own children, we urge the children themselves to invoke the Soweto spirit and radically demand the right to education.”