School Dropouts Loom in Zim Over School Fees Hike – Teachers
School dropouts loom in Zim over school fees hike warns teachers unions as parents struggle to raise school fees following a government-imposed 33% hike for the extended term.
As schools reopen today, Monday 30 August, for examination classes, parents have accused the government of ambushing them with the reopening of schools.
Parents complain that they were given only four days to prepare and raise fees for the new term. On top of that, the Zimbabwean government approved schools fees hikes on a pro rata basis, which translates to a 33% hike, since the term was 80 days long, unlike the usual 60 days of an ordinary term.
On the other hand, teachers’ unions have notified government that it’s highly unlikely that teachers would attend lessons today as they were still incapacitated. The unions also urged the government to utilise part of the funds the government received from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Special Drawing Rights to revamp the education sector. Education Coalition of Zimbabwe acting national co-ordinator Clemence Nhliziyo told NewsDay about the Government’s need to use part of the IMF grant in procuring personal protective equipment (PPEs) and making sure that schools were safe.
Amalgamated Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) has mobilised teachers and parents to stage a demonstration today, until the government address both teacher and parent grievances.
“We conducted a snap survey among parents in Zimbabwe’s 72 education districts and the result showed that the parents were not ready for schools to reopen because they can’t afford the fees being charged,” Artuz president Orbet Masaraure said.
“There are various outstanding issues, hence reopening of schools will be a flop. Both teachers and parents are incapacitated. The COVID-19 lockdowns wiped away citizens’ savings and teachers have not been spared. The date of the reopening of schools was announced at a time teachers had already used up their meagre earnings. By the way, teachers don’t last for a day with their salaries. Teachers have a significant number of children in school and they can’t afford to pay for their fees, let alone travel to their work places.”
In addition to that Zimbabwe National Teachers Union chief executive Manuel Nyawo criticized the government’s policy guidelines on reopening schools as being vague and likely to cause confusion.
Nyawo wrote a letter to Thabela demanding that government revise the guidelines and address concerns raised by teachers on salaries and working conditions to ensure smooth reopening of schools.
“We would be happy madam if you will give clarity on more serious concerns regarding the reopening of schools,” Nyawo said.
“Our members, including those from sister unions, are disgruntled. It should not surprise you if you get the usual bad news that there is no effective teaching and learning in schools as teachers are generally disgruntled over salaries. You allowed schools to technically increase fees under a naive argument that is devoid of logic, but you could not demand that teachers should be paid reasonably in order to motivate them as they go back to work.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera decried the lack of COVID-19 statistics to inform stakeholders about the preparedness of schools for reopening.
“We believe that more consultations could have been done in order to ensure that stakeholders such as staff associations, parents, donors and communities are involved in mobilising resources, to ensure that schools run smoothly amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Taderera said.
The impasse between teachers and government over unresolved salaries and the exobitant fees have all raised doubts in a lot of parents on whether schools would successfully reopen or not. Some parents said they failed to raise school fees for their children due to the COVID-19 lockdown.