Zimbabwe – Many teachers in Zimbabwe have gone on strike just days after schools reopened after closure during the Covid-19 pandemic.
In Harare, some schools were open on Thursday, but not all teachers came to teach. However, few teachers reported for work but did not teach.
The government said that the strike is depriving children of their right to education. Reportedly, many teachers decided to stay at home to protest salaries of about $100 a month. They are demanding to increase their salary to about $500 per month.
Reportedly, in 2018, teachers earned the equivalent of about $540 a month. However, the salary of the teachers has been eroded by years of inflation in the country.
The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Evelyn Ndlovu announced on Thursday that the government has suspended all striking teachers for three months. The government also threatened to cut the salaries of those teachers who are not reporting for duty.
Earlier, the government also offered a 20 per cent pay increase, payment of part of the teachers’ salaries in U.S. dollars. The government also offered subsidies on the purchases of cars and houses. However, the teachers’ union rejected the government offer, saying the proposed pay rise is too low for them. The government and unions were locked in a dispute over salaries.
The teachers’ union also said that the government did not fulfill previous pledges. They doubted the government’s offer of increasing their salaries. They added that teachers cannot afford to purchase cars even with the subsidies.
Obert Masaraure, president of the vocal Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe told the Associated Press (AP) that teachers are living in poverty due to inflation and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reportedly, Zimbabwe has nearly 140,000 government school teachers for 4.6 million students. The schools have been closed ever since its first detected COVID-19 case in March 2020.