Learners from various schools in Bulawayo were turned away on Monday after teachers began their pay strike.
The reopening of schools for the year 2022 was delayed due to the Covid-19 fourth wave.
Talks between unions and the government through the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) meeting collapsed without a concrete agreement.
CITE visited several schools in the city and observed that they were deserted with a few learners milling around outside the premises.
At Moray Primary school, learners were told to go back home. This was also the case at Mpumelelo primary school in Mpopoma, Entumbane Secondary School and Mpopoma High School.
“In the morning we saw learners going back home and they said they were told to go back home,” said a woman who stays close to the school in Mpopoma.
Some learners were also seen roaming the streets, “We were told to go home as teachers are on strike,” said some learners from Nkulumane Primary school in Mpopoma.
Meanwhile, in a notice to its members, Zimbabwe National Teachers’ Union (ZINATU) declared the schools’ opening day the ‘black 7 February’ and called its members to protest.
“The fire has been ignited throughout the country. Teachers have spoken. Headteachers usually called Headmasters and Headmistresses have spoken and we are one together. Hunger knows no position and all teachers have registered their discontent. ZINATU is on the move. We do not feed our children with patriotism,” read the notice.
“Let us protest against RTGS salaries by demanding our salaries in United States Dollars. Only when the employer agrees to these demands shall we retreat to our workplaces.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) programs officer, Ladistous Zunde said they have a clear position regarding the opening of schools this term.
“Teachers are not on strike but simply incapacitated. They want to go back to work but simply can’t because they are broke simple,” said Zunde.
He said the government must pay teachers well for them to be functional but there is no political will to address the teachers’ plight.
“So, our position is until and unless the employer capacitates its educators, yes school buildings shall be opening but without teachers,” he said.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education director of Communication and advocacy, Taungana Ndoro said they were yet to receive the report.