‘Incapacitated’ teachers to be barred from census gig: ministry

HARARE – The ministry of primary and secondary education says teachers who boycotted work in the first two weeks of the new school term citing “incapacitation” will be barred from conducting the national population census next month.

The 2022 census will be conducted from April 7 to 30, according to the Zimbabwe National Statistical Agency (ZIMSTAT).

Teachers will be drafted in for the exercise when schools close on April 7. The gig comes with allowances, which for the poorly-paid teachers are a shot in the arm.

In a circular to provincial education directors on Tuesday, the ministry of primary and secondary education said: “Provincial education directors are required to take note of selection criteria for teachers that take part in the national census. The government has directed that only those teachers that have been consistently attending to their duties since the opening of schools in February 2022 shall be considered for census duties.

“Those teachers that took part in the industrial action witnessed in the first two weeks of the term shall be ineligible for selection for census duties.”

According to the government’s own figures tabled in parliament, just 54.6 percent of the country’s 150,000 teachers were at work by February 16 after schools opened on February 7.

The government’s latest directive would mean around 82,000 teachers are ineligible for census duties.

The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe said the government decision was a “recipe for disaster”.

The union’s secretary general Raymond Majongwe said: “They want the loyal sheep who will work for peanuts and never complain. Is this what ZIMSTATS asked for?”

Teachers went on strike when schools opened on February 7 demanding improved pay. The government offered a 20 percent increase and non-monetary incentives before ordering the teachers to accept the terms or face suspensions.

Zimbabwe conducts a population census every 10 years and the 2022 survey will be the fifth since the country’s independence from Britain in 1980.

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