Scores of pupils countrywide in Zimbabwe were on Tuesday left stranded after they were turned away by authorities as schools failed to open because of the strike by teachers.
Most pupils returned home as early at 10 am after as there were no teachers. Gates at some schools were closed leaving parents and guardians with nowhere to get information on what was happening. In some schools there were only groundsmen manning the premises.
By mid-morning, most schools were virtually empty with a few pupils seen milling around their school premises.
Zimbabwe’s education ministry had put back school opening day by two weeks to Tuesday, blaming a delay in the marking of last year’s exam papers.
At the weekend the two teachers unions, the militant Progressive teachers union and the pro-government Zimta union vowed that not a single teacher would report for duty.
Teachers are demanding a monthly pay of US$2 300 but the government is broke and this month less than US$10 was deposited into teachers accounts.
Last year, only 28 days of learning were recorded and public national examination results for 2008 are still pending. Some believe that many schools may not reopen at all as teachers are determined to continue striking until the government, which is very broke, pays them correctly.
University riots brewing
Also on Tuesday, as all universities remain closed, disgruntled University of Zimbabwe (UZ) students destroyed vice chancellor’s official brand new Mercedes Benz by throwing stones to smash its windows.
The psychology building had its windows stoned and one of the security guards was beaten up in an unplanned demonstration held at the university campus.
No arrests were made as the notorious riot police, known for its brutal hand on protestors, arrived when the students had already dispersed. The UZ protestors were demanding that the lecturers continue to teach and end the semester as soon as February.
They called for the Robert Mugabe regime to resolve the outstanding issues that have caused the lecturers to go on strike, such as paying their salaries in US dollars and providing them with the appropriate paper to sit the coming exams.