THE government should be applauded for its efforts to improve the welfare of civil servants, especially teachers.
Last week, the government awarded an increment on allowance given to student teachers.
However, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry must start investigations into the welfare and working conditions of teachers in private colleges.
Usually, private colleges are neglected as the ministry focuses its attention on so-called formal schools, leaving thousands of teachers in private colleges at the mercy of ruthless capitalists, who masquerade as college directors.
Nowadays, the situation is dire, as most proprietors are busy amassing wealth and neglecting the personnel that is making them rich; that is the teacher.
Out of sheer desperation in the current economic situation, teachers who get jobs at private colleges work extra hard in a bid to make ends meet, but they go for months without being paid.
The saddest part is that the owners of private colleges’ stomachs continue to protrude beyond pot-belly levels as they will be feasting, while the poor teacher will be fasting.
As a teacher at one of the private colleges in Mabvuku, Harare, I speak from experience.
As we share information with our fellow colleagues at other private colleges, we see that our situation is miserable as no one cares about our welfare and working conditions.
For instance, where I work, there is no lunch hour, no off or leave and we work from 7am to 6pm.
The students are plus or minus 700 against less than 20 teachers, meaning abnormal loads burden us everyday.
There is no adherence to COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing, sanitisation and wearing of masks. It is free for all.
To make matters worse, the college does not offer medical aid or cover for teachers and if one falls ill, no one cares. We are expected to work as if everything is normal and abnormal targets are always set for us.
Excellent results are churned out each year, but they act as if they provoke the wrath of the college director.
If one goes out on school business, transport and subsistence allowances are never paid to them and the only thing they are paid is a salary, which is never paid on time and the director even owes us lots of money. We are not on National Social Security Authority pension, but because of sheer desperation, we sacrifice our freedom and lives in exchange of peanuts!
This is a tip of the iceberg of what is happening at private colleges.
Many teachers are suffering in silence because even if district officials come to inspect, they are bribed in order for them to turn a blind eye on what will be happening on the ground.
Most colleges are not observing policies put in place by the ministry, but they go unpunished because the ministry is too busy with the formal education sector.
We use the same syllabus. We have a common aim of improving the education of Zimbabwe and, hence, the ministry must not turn a blind eye as if private colleges are non-existent.