BY BEAUTY NYUKE/LORRAINE MUROMO
THE Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has revealed that teachers said to be reporting for duty were charging up to US$10 per pupil per week for private lessons.
This is despite a government ban on private lessons imposed in March, which was announced by Primary and Secondary Education ministry secretary Tumisang Thabela.
“Conducting of extra lessons by teachers for a fee is, therefore, banned. Any extra lessons be it during the week or at the weekend shouldn’t be for a cost to the parents,” Thabela said in March.
Last month, Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema threatened punitive measures against educators who conducted private lessons.
But PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou in a statement on Saturday said his union conducted a survey in the country’s 10 provinces, which revealed a sorry state of affairs in the education sector which was being perpetuated by unscrupulous teachers who are reporting for duty.
“Fundamentally, such teachers are engaged in illicit activities that involve fleecing parents and perpetuating educational vandalism in schools. The survey found out that primary schoolchildren (Grades 1-6) are charged monies ranging from US$1 to US$5 per week, while Grade 7 and secondary school pupils are charged up to US$10 per week for extra lessons.”
Zhou said in some schools, this was actually happening with the blessing of school heads, adding that some classes were now divided into paid-up pupils and those that would have not paid for the extra lessons.
“Other teachers have ventured into piracy, photo-copying textbooks that they sell to their students at a minimum of US$10 per copy. Such teachers compile notes for a particular subject area, bind the notes and sell them at US$10 per copy”, he said.
“As PTUZ, we reiterate that government must invest in quality public education, rather than allow public schools to degenerate into chaos and vandalism”, he said.
The majority of the teachers have not been reporting for duty since the beginning of the term, citing incapacitation, or they go to work only to mark the students “attendance registers”.
They want US$520 to US$550 salaries or their equivalent in local currency.
Public Service minister Paul Mavima in his Workers’ Day message promised to review the salaries of all civil servants. Government had offered them a staggered 70% raise, which they rejected saying that they would not dither on their demands for United States dollar-denominated wages.