Schools reopen as teachers promise crippling strike

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By Darlington Gatsi

SCHOOLS reopened Monday for the commencement of the second term, a month after closing for Easter and Independence holidays.

Week preceding the reopening of schools is a torrid time for many parents as they make last ditch attempts to prop up their children for a new school term.

They also coincide with the month end, when most parents receive their salaries, redirecting them towards the school needs of their children.

In the streets of Harare over the weekend, parents made last minute rush in the shops scouring for stationery.

Shops usually take advantage of this rush to hike prices and cash in on the buzz.

This opens a conduit to dealers known in vernacular lingo as makoronyera who take advantage of the situation, selling stationery and uniforms to desperate parents.

This was the experience of a Harare parent only identified as Mudereri as she prepared to see off her form one student.

“It was difficult to make preparations for my child. We were trying hard to strike a financial balance. Since we are in winter, children need blankets and also new winter uniforms but the money to buy them was scarce and we had to make do with what we have,” said Mudereri.

The reopening of schools has been blighted by a sharp loss of value of local currency against the preferred United States dollar and a steep rise of retail prices.

Many, particularly civil servants earn in local currency subsequently making the Zimbabwe dollar their choice of currency when purchasing in shops.

Some shops demand exclusive payment of goods in foreign currency forcing the majority to exchange local currency on the black market.

Schools have also followed suit pegging tuition fees in foreign currency in another show of lack of confidence in the Zimbabwean dollar.

Another parent, Mrs Williams, queuing at a local boys high school said: “The school pegged fees at US$300 which can be paid in local currency. However some other ancillaries like boarding stay the school are requiring exclusively United States dollars in cash. Sometimes you wonder if this is lawful”.

Uncertainty over teachers.

There is uncertainty over teachers returning to work for the second term as they are demanding an upward review of their salaries.

Teachers are demanding a return to pre-2018 salaries and threatening industrial action if the government does not heed their calls.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said they will be reporting for duty twice a week.

“Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe  remains concerned with the welfare of the teacher. Teachers remain incapacitated and therefore we continue to agitate for a living wage of  US$1 260.

“Therefore it is resolved that teachers going forward will be reporting for duty two days a week. We continue to demand a fair living wage and an upward salary review of US $ 1 260,” said ARTUZ spokesperson, Thembakhuye Maphepha.

Efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro were futile.