UNCERTAINTY surrounds the opening of schools for the first term tomorrow with teachers citing incapacitation to report for duty while parents and guardians complain about high tuition fees, expensive uniforms and other learning material.
There are calls for a delay in the opening of schools in flood hotspots as a precaution following torrential rains in most parts of the country over the past few days.
Yesterday parents in Harare and in other parts of the country were in a last-minute rush to buy school uniforms with most of them beamoning the prevailing high prices.
A parent Mary Nhanani told The Standard that she was having a headache over how she would send her children to school after her employer failed to pay her December salary.
“As you can see, we are making last-minute shopping because we are failing to cope with the economy,” Nhanani said at a shoe shop in the capital.
Another parent George Mareya said he was worried that his children may be chased away from school over non-payment of fees.
“I have three children but I don’t have money for school fees and I am still looking for the money,” Mareya said.
Poor salaries are choking many employees who are failing to make ends meet in the harsh economic environment.
Many employees in the private sector failed to enjoy Christmas because employers did not pay them.
Last week, there was chaos at a primary school in Glaudina in the capital as parents refused to pay the enrolment fees of US$35 which the school authorities were demanding.
“There is a big problem at the school which is now under council, as a satellite school of Kuwadzana 8 Primary School. They are saying children must pay at least US$35 for enrolment before we pay school fees, failure of which children will be forced out of the school. So as parents we refused.”
In an interview, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) leader Takavafira Zhou said the majority of teachers did not have money to report for duty.
“The majority of the teachers do not have money to go to work, they are incapacitated,” Zhou said.
“Teachers are still calling for an urgent meeting with the government on the issue of salaries.
“Salaries they got in December were eroded by inflation.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) Obert Masaraure said educators wanted to report for duty, but did not have the financial means.
“Unfortunately, on Monday (tomorrow), 16 of our members are going to stand trial for having raised placards demanding better salaries last year in January,” Masaraure said.
Police arrested 16 Artuz members after protesting in Harare demanding United States-dollar salaries.
The Artuz members, including Obert Masaraure, said they were assaulted by the police before they were taken to Harare Central Police Station.
“They (Artuz 16) are just being persecuted for demanding salaries and we should stand in solidarity with them by not showing up for work,” Masaraure said.
“At the same time teachers cannot afford to be at work because of monetary issues; teachers are just broke and cannot afford to go to school.”
Teachers and other civil servants are demanding United States dollar salaries to make ends meet. There are similar calls in the private sector.