The broke Zimbabwe government has averted a crippling strike by teachers after it persuaded international donors including the United Nations Children’s Fund, to fund underpaid teachers.
Officials of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association had today threatened to launch a new strike if the government did not review the monthly US$100 paid to teachers like other civil servants.
When introduced in March by the unity government installed in mid-February, the sum was intended to be a supplement to public service salaries paid in Zimbabwean dollars. But the government has since abandoned all use of the worthless national currency, leaving only the supplement as a full salary.
Education Minister David Coltart said UNICEF promised to launch an appeal by month’s end through the office of U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for funds to help increase Zimbabwean teacher salaries.
Monday’s meeting was attended by European Union and Swedish Development Agency officials who said they wanted to help but as a matter of policy were monitoring political conditions.
Schools fee adjustments
Schools open today and Government has instructed parents to pay interim admission fees of US$5 and US$10 for primary schools in high-density and low-density suburbs, respectively.
It said parents with children attending secondary school in high-density suburbs will pay US$10 while their low-density counterparts will have to part with US$20.
Teachers will also be exempted from paying school fees for their children as part of their employment package.
Government last night said the admission fees would allow schools to open while Cabinet finalises a reduced school fees regime.
Coltart said Cabinet would today decide on a revised tuition fees structure which will see parents who paid more than the statutory amount last term being credited with the balance.
Government has also exempted teachers from paying school fees for their children for the second term as part of measures aimed at mitigating their plight agreed by the Government and teachers’ unions during yesterday’s meeting.
Minister Coltart said while the fees structure pegged in March this year reflected the actual amounts, it was regrettable that neither Government nor parents could afford them.
He, however, said schools should convene meetings with parents to determine levies which would vary from one school to another depending on its needs and parents’ ability to pay.
“Because the fees have been reduced, school development committees will have to raise the balance of the money needed to run schools through levies,” said Minister Coltart.
“Accordingly, all Government schools are to urgently hold meetings in terms of the Education Act, to agree with parents the amount of levies to be charged and thereafter to seek approval from the permanent secretary.”
The minister said all schools should now open foreign currency accounts into which all the fees and levies should be deposited.