Teachers sell sweets to survive

HARARE

mso-bidi-font-size: 10.0pt”> – Thirteen-year old Cynthia Moyo, a pupil at a primary school in the leafy suburb of Emerald Hill, is in a quandary. Cynthia’s no-nonsense headmaster has assigned her and other pupils at the school, the unenviable task of reporting to him any teachers they see selling sweets and home-made cakes to pupils. “It is like I am being made to spy on my teachers,” she says rather uncomfortably.


The teaching profession, once highly regarded in Zimbabwe, has sunk to low levels after six years of a bitter economic recession critics blame on President Robert Mugabe’s mismanagement of the economy. Teachers have fled the country in droves.


But for thousands of others who remain, the struggle for survival is becoming tougher each day, forcing them to sell sweets and home-baked cakes to their pupils in order to supplement their salaries. A primary school teacher at a school in Harare, Patricia Nezungai, says she is not bothered by the fact that she sells sweets and cookies to her students.


“The government is paying us peanuts, we are trying to make ends meet. Even government ministers are selling maize cobs from their offices,” said Nezungai. “I bring about 1 000 sweets a week, each selling for $5 000.” Simple mathematics shows that she rakes in $5 million per week, almost half of what she earns in a month. An average teacher in Zimbabwe now earns Z$9 million a month, way below the Z$21 million the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe says is needed by an average family of six to survive every month.


But an executive member of the School Development Association (SDA) which helps run the school, said while teachers have a right to be innovative to stay afloat in these trying times, they must ensure that they do not compromise the quality of learning in schools. “Teachers are spending most of the time selling goods instead of coaching our children. Parents now have the added duty of doing teaching at home,” said the member, who asked not to be named. – ZimOnline

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