Schools open amid rising teacher anger over shrinking salaries

BULAWAYO – Schools opened for the second term on Tuesday amid growing teacher disgruntlement over their inflation-ravaged salaries.

The Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said there was a “sombre atmosphere” at schools.

“Teachers realise that they will be working for close to nothing again,” the PTUZ said.

The Young Teachers of Zimbabwe called on the government to urgently review salaries for its workers, taking note of a plunge in the value of the Zimbabwe dollar.

“Grievances are not being addressed, the teacher-learner ratio is too high and living conditions in some schools are pathetic. The dignity of the teacher has fallen from grace to grass,” the union said.

Teachers currently earn an average Z$25,000 – about US$156 using the discredited official currency exchange rate or US$62 on the widely-used parallel market. The money is not enough to pay for transport, food and meet the basic needs of teachers and their families, unions say.

“We will not accept the RTGS salary beyond May 2022,” the PTUZ said, referring to the electronic currency used to pay government workers. “The government should not say we have not given them enough notice.”

Unions say it is an absurdity that the government approved school fees increases across the board, but said nothing about salaries which were last reviewed in March after a strike by teachers shut down schools.

“When it comes to collection of school fees the RTGS is weak, according to government. When it comes to salaries, the RTGS is the strongest currency,” the Young Teachers said.

Public service minister Paul Mavima said the government would engage its workers on salary increases, but no date has been set for the negotiations.

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