Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
TEACHERS and private tutors are cashing in on extra lessons, charging up to US$40 per subject per month especially for examination classes as parents and guardians become desperate to make up for lost time.
An investigation by Chronicle revealed that for primary pupils, the charges for extra lessons are mostly pegged at US$10 for all subjects while fees vary for secondary school pupils.
A learner who is doing Ordinary level is charged between US$10 and $20 per subject.
Those at Advanced level pay up to US$40 per subject with some demanding the same amount for Ordinary Level pupils being taught science subjects.
Some of those conducting extra lessons are not qualified teachers but graduates who did not find employment in their fields of expertise.
The trend is common in both eastern and western suburbs of Bulawayo.
Some learners start their day by attending classes in school and thereafter go for extra lessons at private homes.
On Tuesday a Chronicle news crew caught up with a mathematics teacher who was teaching at his home in Mpopoma suburb who revealed that he rakes up to US$200 a month through teaching extra lessons.
While extra lessons are illegal, the teacher who preferred not to be named, said he has been conducting them since 2013.
“I prefer that my name is not mentioned for obvious reasons. But I have been teaching extra lessons since 2013. I teach Form One to Form Six classes.
And for junior classes I charge US$15 per child a month and for Form 6 pupils I charge them US$30.
At the moment I have about 10 learners as some of them have returned to boarding schools,” said the teacher.
He uses a white board marker to conduct his lessons and when the news crew arrived at his home at about 6pm, his class was in session.
The teacher claimed that he was actually helping learners as the kind of attention they get from him at home is not obtained when they are in school.
“Most of my pupils start coming for extra lessons when they are in Form Three but in reality, those children have a depth of Form One learners.
Unlike in school where I have to deal with a group, at home I have to handhold them and ensure that they are up to speed.
I do this wholeheartedly because I’m paid in hard currency and the money is not taxed. So, it is lucrative to do the extra lessons,” said the teacher.
Asked if he was not shortchanging his employer as moonlighting was illegal, he said, he was only conducting the lessons after conducting his day job.
“That is why I’m teaching at this hour.
I only teach when I knock off from work,” he said.
His learners declined to talk to the news crew.
A parent, Mr Mayibongwe Khumalo, said parents are left with no choice but engage teachers conducting extra lessons so that their children do not lose out considering the disruptions in the education sector.
Schools reopened last week on Monday for the First Term of the year but some teachers are still to report for duty.
Mr Khumalo said it was sad that education is now being turned into a commodity as opposed to it being a right.
“As a parent you can’t sit back and wait for schools to reopen.
At the moment there is a stalemate in the education sector, schools have reopened but teachers are not teaching.
Our children stand to lose if we do not take the extra step to get them educated and if we do not go the extra mile, the situation will come and bite us,” said Mr Khumalo.
“But this comes at a cost that we are not supposed to be incurring.
I think there is a need for Government to bring confidence to the education sector because as it stands, we don’t trust that children are being adequately taught.”
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief executive officer Dr Sifisio Ndlovu said the extra lessons are now a survival tool for teachers amid economic challenges.
“There is now an opportunistic approach because teachers are not well motivated and supported in the public sector to an extent that moonlighting becomes fashionable and becomes the norm and becomes a mode of operation for one to survive,” said Dr Ndlovu.
He said in the worst scenarios, some parents are totally withdrawing their children from the school system and opting for home schooling.
Primary and Secondary Education Ministry director of communication and advocacy Mr Taungana Ndoro said extra lessons remain illegal and teachers were taking advantage of desperate children.
“We have always been saying that parents should stop supporting those underhand dealings.
When they take their children there, they are creating a situation where it is difficult for some of those teachers to work without incentives.
The teachers identify some of these learners in classrooms and go to parents and the parents become so gullible that they act on that,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said Government was paying teachers’ salaries hence there is no need for them to be seeking incentives from parents.
“Teachers are receiving salaries and they have even gotten an increment.
They are even getting new conditions of service as announced by Treasury last week,” he said.
Last week, Finance and Economic Development Minister Mthuli Ncube announced a 20 percent salary increase for all civil servants plus an additional US$100 cash allowance, a school fees allowance for teachers and a number of non-monetary benefits.
Mr Ndoro said extra lessons are conducted in places that could expose children to Covid-19.
“They don’t have health protocols that they will be adhering to.
If you look at some of the culprits that were apprehended by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission in certain cities, you will find that they will be crammed in one room without a sanitizer, a thermometer and social distancing.
And some of the learners will not even be having masks.
So, you will expect the same learner to come into our schools and they will end up infecting our learners,” he said.–@knottily
Article Source: The Chronicle