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Education crisis

Schools opened here on Monday but most teachers were absent, in protest over low salaries.

Civil servants, mainly in the education and health sectors, have for a long time been at loggerheads with the government over poor remuneration and to date both parties have not reached common ground.

Last year, after seeing that the situation was getting out of hand in the health sector, the government came up with a tough law prohibiting any employee in this sector to partake in industrial action.

And with the way things are going, the same might be applied in the education sector as teachers often down tools or simply stay away as in the current situation.

On Tuesday, the Education Ministry instructed all school heads to take urgent action against any teacher who did not report for duty.

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The Ministry said the absent teachers should be charged and suspended and the ‘no work and no pay’ principle applied.

The sad reality is that teachers have sincere grievances which those in power are choosing to ignore.

Let me put things into perspective; like most civil servants, teachers earn less that US$100 (P1, 000).

From that salary they have to pay rent and depending on where one stays and the number of rooms using, that’s not even enough.

On top of that there are transport costs, food and all other expenses you can think of. So you see, it just doesn’t add up.

Reminds me of a recent conversation I had with a police officer friend who told me that her basic salary is for airtime and toiletries while the US$70 (P700) Covid allowance is for food.

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Your guess is as good as mine as to where she gets the money for school fees and other bills.

No wonder our police officers are quick to solicit for a bribe whenever an opportunity arises.

Anyway, back to the issue of striking teachers. Our government does not seems to be the least bit bothered as the decision makers are most likely not affected as their children go to private schools.

Surely teachers cannot be going on strike every school term with no permanent solution being put in place.

In the end, it’s the children of the ‘poor’ who suffer as education goes on in private schools.

Meanwhile, government spokesperson, Nick Mangwana was at pains on social media, posting pictures of ‘normal’ classrooms where teachers were in attendance, giving the impression that it was business as usual.

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Maybe it was in one or two schools but the fact that the government also issued a threat to the teachers shows the situation was bad.

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