Zim teachers ask relief agencies to give them food handouts

HARARE - Hungry teachers from eastern Zimbabwe have written to relief agencies to supply them with food saying they were unable to teach on empty stomachs, in yet another example of dire conditions in the country's once brilliant education sector.

In a letter to the National Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (NANGO), the teachers said they were unable to feed their families on their little salaries and urged the donor community to include teachers on food aid programmes.

The stomach pain that the community suffers is also felt by teachers, said the letter written by Manicaland provincial branch of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA).

A hungry teacher cannot do his duty well, if he is discriminated against during food handouts to communities in which they are working. ZIMTA hereby submits these views to the national representatives of NGOs for consideration, it said.

NANGO advocacy manager Fambai Ngirande said relief agencies would look into the teachers' appeal for food aid.

A decade of acute recession has left President Robert Mugabe's government short of funds to improve salaries or working conditions for teachers and tens of thousands of other civil servants.

The recession has triggered a severe brain drain with not only teachers but also thousands of other skilled professionals such as bankers, lawyers, doctors and engineers fleeing Zimbabwe to go abroad where remuneration and living conditions are better.

Education has been the hardest hit sector by the brain drain with education experts estimating that they were only about 75 000 teachers – half of them untrained – manning the country's schools when 150 000 qualified teachers are required for effective teaching.

In addition, there has been very little learning at public schools over the past 12 months as teachers have spent most of their time striking for more pay or sitting at home because they could not afford bus fare to work on their meagre salaries. – ZimOnline

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