PRIVATE mission run schools have defied a government directive banning holiday and extra lessons claiming the extra funds paid by parents help them run their schools successfully amid poor remuneration of teachers.
Early this month the Minister of Primary and Secondary Schools, Lazarus Dokora, sent a circular banning holiday and extra lessons.
However, a snap survey carried by the Zimbabwe Independent revealed that the majority of church-run schools carried out holiday lessons as the funds accumulated helped develop their schools.
“We started building this teachers’ cottage in 2013 and it is being financed by funds we get as holiday lesson fees,” said a senior teacher at a Methodist run school in the Midlands province.
The cottage would house four teachers but the construction is under threat from Dokora’s edict banning holiday lessons.
“The last time we had holiday lesson was in August 2013 and we raised US$12 000 and paid our teachers about US$4 000. The remainder went towards the construction of this teachers’ complex,” said the principal of the school who preferred anonymity.
Secondary schools normally charge up to US$5 per subject for holiday lessons, with extra lessons going for between US$1 and US$2 an hour paid directly to the teacher. On average primary school pupils are charged about US$3 every week.
Secondary school teachers at public institutions have also vowed to defy Dokora’s orders as they taught during the holidays.
Teachers said they would continue lessons until government paid them salaries reflective of the poverty datum line amid concerns they were deliberately relaxing during the term in order to fleece parents over the holidays.
However, associations which represent teachers have clashed over the holiday lessons.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general, Raymond Majongwe, said the minister should address the issue of salaries in order to stop schools from conducting holiday lessons.
“Government should address the source of the problem which is poor salaries rather than stopping teachers from earning extra income,” said Majongwe.
On the other hand the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) has condemned teachers who neglect their duty during normal teaching time so that they could force students to enrol for paid extra lessons.
Zimta chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said teachers who were demanding money were “rogue elements” and not supposed to be in the teaching profession.