Zim student teachers down tools over US$1.85 monthly allowance

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By Alois Vinga

STUDENT teachers have gone on strike arguing their US$1.85 equivalent by way of monthly allowances they were receiving from the government were not enough to sustain their expenses during the teaching practice period.

The latest development throws the country’s educational system into further disarray after qualified teachers have refused to return to work when schools reopened in September following the easing of strict Covid-19 lockdown restrictions by government.

Speaking to Tuesday, Council Of Student Teachers (COST) president, Walter Muzamani said members could no longer bear the costs of sustaining the studies from the paltry allowance.

“We are currently being paid $150 per month and since the beginning of the year, we were already incapacitated to turn up for work.

“We petitioned parliament over the matter but unfortunately no action was taken after receiving feedback that our submission disappeared,” he said.

The student leader said teachers college principals had recommended the payment of $2 700 allowance early this year but the increment has not been paid.

“Prices of most basic commodities have risen alarmingly, making it impossible to fund our learning costs from this paltry allowance.

“We are therefore not going to turn up for work until we are paid 80% of the least paid teacher’s monthly salary,” Muzamani said.

He blamed the poor allowances for fuelling prostitution among students who end up offering sex to the qualified male counterparts in order to receive financial gifts.

COST said it is the duty of government to ensure a living allowance for student teachers indexed in US dollars for the smooth delivery of service at all institutions as well as the provision of the requisite Covid-19 health guidelines as per Ministry of Health and Child Care regulations aimed at ensuring a safe working environment.

The student group said the University of Zimbabwe, Department of Teacher education regulates that student teachers do not address learners without the supervision of a mentor and this requirement has since been defeated by the ongoing teachers strike.

Added Muzamani, “Failure to deal with the aforementioned issues will result in yet more empty classes, increased risk of Covid-19 transmission among students, increased indiscipline in schools amongst others.

“Should the government remain indifferent, The Council of Student Teachers (COST) shall head from the classroom straight to the street until this particular issue is solved.”