BY BLESSED MHLANGA/PRIVILEGE GUMBODETE
CITIZENS Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has called on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his government to move with speed and open schools as the country’s education sector risked collapse.
Schools closed in December last year following a spike in COVID-19 cases.
They were scheduled to open on January 10, but opening was postponed indefinitely as government wants more time to assess the situation.
“We know our teachers are poorly paid and are now earning less than US$100 per month when the cost of living is skyrocketing.
“There is need to restore teachers’ salaries to pre-October 2018 level of at least US$540 and above that. We need to improve teachers’ status and conditions of service,” Chamisa said.
“Schools must be opened to allow children from underprivileged communities to access education.
“Those in private schools opened online classes and they are learning, while those in rural Zimbabwe and peri-urban settings have been disadvantaged.
“There is need to ensure schools are opened, while COVID-19 precautionary measures are put in place. Our people cannot be in prison forever, we need to ensure that life goes on in safe environments,” Chamisa told NewsDay.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) in a joint statement yesterday said teachers could no longer afford to send their children to school.
“Some schools are now demanding up to $160 000 in fees when a teacher is earning $20 000.
“How do you reconcile that?” PTUZ secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe asked.
Majongwe said the government should regularise civil servants’ negotiating platforms in order to do away with the Apex Council, which he claimed was captured.
“The current negotiating process has since been overtaken by events, considering the provisions of section 65 of the Constitution.
“The government must create a legal chamber as provided for by the law where unions are allowed to engage government through a properly constituted framework rather than the current nefarious begging platform which doesn’t benefit teachers,” he said.
He said as the government prepared to open schools, it should put in place mechanisms to protect teachers and students from contracting COVID-19.
Last week, acting President Constantino Chiwenga further deferred the opening of schools in order to put preventive public health measures in place before the commencement of the school calendar.