Rural service like a jail term, say teachers

HARARE - The president of the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Takavafira Zhou, has called on the government to re-introduce the rural hardships allowance as an incentive for teachers who are forced to suffer deplorable living conditions in rural areas.

I think the government should consider a rural hardship allowance for civil servants, particularly teachers in rural areas, as their conditions of service are so deplorable that you can hardly attract any qualified teachers to come, Zhou said. We have to use the same little amount we are getting as salaries to pay bus fare to go and collect our monies from the nearby business centre. We are literally miles away from other essential services like health facilities. It is my prayer and hope that the government re-introduces the rural hardship allowance as the life we are leading here is not far away from a jail term, Isaiah Sikala, a teacher in Hurungwe, said.

Zhou stated that the government should centralize the incentive system as asking parents to pay runs the risk of children not coming to school because their parents cant afford to send them. Zhou believes incentives have little or no effect on the pass rate and gave the example of the non-incentive Zaka High School, which came out at number 10 in terms of pass rate.

Zhou called for a bigger budget for education: According to the UN set standards, education takes not less than 30%of the national budget but here we are way behind that mark. Other countries like Kenya have 35% of their budget channelled towards education.

Zhou hinted at a possible civil servants strike if the government does not give the money promised by President Robert Mugabe by the end of June.

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