Union boss demands fees waiver for teachers as schools open

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By Leopold Munhende

PROGRESSIVE Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) President Takavafira Zhou says government should grant teachers a waiver on school fees payment for their dependants arguing it was improper for the country’s educators to pay for a service they offered.

The demand is part of a plethora he placed in a message he circulated on social media on the eve of Zimbabwe’s third term schools opening.

They include the adoption of a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for teachers, a salary increment and depoliticising schools as a means of ensuring the security of teachers.

“PTUZ urges government to seriously consider non-payment of fees by teachers for a service they offer.

“Those working at ZESA do not pay electricity yet teachers pay for a service they offer and are paid peanuts,” Zhou said.

He also expressed concern with the manner in which the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) has failed to protect the integrity of local examinations in the wake of what has now become routine leakage of examination papers annually.

The PTUZ leader also expressed concerns over the effects of the shortened second term which has left a greater burden on teachers’ shoulders in terms of covering up tuition gaps created during the last term as the country’s schools calendar enters the crucial examinations phase.

The last term was cut short by the staging of the country’s harmonised elections which saw teachers roped in as polling officers with schools also being used as polling stations.

In what could be a call for industrial action, Zhou encouraged teachers to unite in their call for action from government.

“We urge teachers to unite across the union divide under the umbrella of FOZEU and galvanise all teachers in clamouring for better salaries and conditions of service,” he said.

Schools open this Tuesday at a time Zimbabwe was experiencing its worst liquidity crunch since dollarisation in 2009.

Pass rates have also taken a knock over the past two years with the 2017 Ordinary Level pass rate falling to 26.35 percent from 27.92 percent in 2016 while the Advanced Level pass rate fell from 84.2 percent to 82.6 percent.