Some school heads are allegedly threatening and barring teachers from reporting for duty in a bid to keep the strike going on, Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu has said.
Dr Ndlovu told legislators through a ministerial statement that her ministry has been receiving phone calls from teachers who said some heads were chasing them away when they reported for work.
She said the reports were coming in after the Government suspended teachers who had not been reporting for work since the start of the new school term.
“We have received information that some of these people are just attending and not teaching by the villagers themselves. The villagers call my office, my contact is very popular because I was at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises so a lot of people know me and I am still using the same contact.
“So they call and tell us that we are being lied to, these people are just seated. At times we are informed that it is the headmaster who is turning away teachers. Even the teachers are calling to say, what can I do? This was especially so after my statement of suspension. Most teachers called to say, what should we do seeing as we are being advised by the headmaster not to report for duty? Endai kumba, murikutsvagei pano? (Go home, what are you doing here?).
“So it is a problem, when you have got a manager who is unionised, how do you work?” she asked.
Minister Ndlovu said the reported behaviour of headmasters was “shocking”.
“Heads of schools, their deputies and senior teachers are my managers on the ground who are supposed to be helping and assisting me to get things happening. I was shocked to find that they are unionised in this country. Where in this world are managers unionised? I am yet to hear from the International Labour Organisation (ILO). I think I will seek clarity on this one from the International Labour Organisation,” she said.
She said only 54 percent of teachers were actually working as of February 16.
“On average on the list, Masvingo province at least 85,4 percent teachers were attending lessons, followed by Manicaland which has 70 percent attendance, Mashonaland East had 57,3 percent. The rest were 50 percent and below.
“The average attendance for the whole country, all 10 provinces was 54.6 percent which is very low. We expected the attendance to improve and the figures that we have thereafter rose from 45.8 percent on Thursday the 10th of February 2022 to 65,6 percent on the 16th of February,” she said.
Some teachers have been boycotting classes since the new term opened last month in a bid to pressure the Government to pay civil servants in US dollars, a demand which the employer has said was impracticable, as it does not have the capacity to generate the foreign currency.
The Government has since offered all civil servants an improved salary package, which some of the workers representative bodies have accepted and described as the shape of things to come. – New Ziana.