TEACHERS will decide at the weekend whether or not to return to school if government fails to increase their monthly US$100 allowance when the second term opens on May 5.
The Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) will deliberate on teachersâ€™ remuneration and conditions of service at its annual two-day conference that begins in Bulawayo today.
The conference is also expected to take stock on the actual number of teachers in the country and will also tackle bottlenecks for returning teachers who had left the service for greener pastures.
Zimta president Tendai Chikowore this week confirmed that the issue of teachersâ€™ salaries and allowances would be high on the agenda of the conference.
â€œThe conference will tackle a vast spectrum of issues. The teachersâ€™ salaries and allowances will be high on the agenda because it is a critical issue that affects the welfare of our members,â€ Chikowore said.
Â She said there were serious concerns from teachers that the US$100 allowance was not adequate to pay for rent, school fees for their children, food, water, electricity bills and other costs.
Â â€œTeachers are asking â€˜how do we survive with only US$100 monthly?â€™ As it is teachers are not able to send their own children to school and the allowance is not even enough to buy food and pay rentals. The conference will come up with a resolution on whether they will return to school or not,â€ Chikowore added. Â
She said the conference was also expected to take stock of what transpired in the last 12 months when the organisation last met.
Â â€œEverybody knows 2008 was a difficult year, there was no schooling to talk about. There was decay in the education sector as schools were closed and there was a lot of movement of teachers and a new government came in at the beginning of the year. As Zimta we will need to come up with a position at the meeting on how we engage with the new government,â€ she added.
Finance minister Tendai Biti and Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart have said civil servantsâ€™ allowances will not be increased in the immediate future because the government coffers are dry.
Zimta â€“â€“ with a membership of between 45 000 and 50 000 members â€“â€“ is the largest teachersâ€™ representative organisation in the country.
BY LOUGHTY DUBE