BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
PARLIAMENT has urged the government to cushion teachers from the harsh economic environment and waive tuition fees for their children.
The House also urged government to urgently increase teachers’ salaries and undertake a regrading exercise in line with their professional qualifications, among other interventions aimed at improving the education sector.
The recommendations were jointly made by the Parliamentary Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and the Primary the Education committees at a time when labour unions representing the teachers warned that their members would not be able to report for duty when schools reopen today for the final term.
Schools were shut down on June 4 amid at the height of a sweeping COVID-19 outbreak.
A probe into the welfare of teachers by the two parliamentary committees followed a petition by the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) and the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) in 2019 registering a number of issues affecting teachers, top among them being poor remuneration.
Presenting the findings, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said teachers were demotivated and underpaid.
“That as part of conditions of teachers, the Public Service Commission in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, should introduce a tuition fee waiver for up to three children attending public schools per teacher by October 2021. We are very excited about this particular issue because when we started having discussions with the Minister of Public Service, their initial response was to do it for everyone and not just teachers,” the report reads.
“That the Public Service Commission should regrade job posts in the teaching profession and civil service widely to reflect the reporting hierarchy and professional qualifications in order to restore the dignity and authority of the manager over subordinates.”
“That the government and the teachers union immediately engage in meaningful negotiations without the process being politicised. That teachers welfare should be prioritised and the platform for negotiation should be strengthened through amending appropriate legislation.”
Teachers are demanding US$520 or its equivalent which they used to earn before the government reintroduced the local currency in October 2018 among other incentives.
On Saturday, the PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe in a letter to Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare minister Paul Mavima called on the government to respect the “genuine concerns” of teachers.
“Ignoring the grievances of teachers at this crucial moment is tantamount to committing educational hara-kiri for the effects of today’s actions will haunt us tomorrow. Teachers love their job and are willing to teach their learners once the current impasse has been dealt with,” Majongwe wrote.