By A Correspondent– Thousands of teachers in Zimbabwe are reportedly on strike over poor salaries and unsafe working conditions.
In-classroom teaching resumed this week, but some teachers are protesting salaries that are below the poverty level and a lack of personal protective equipment against COVID-19.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) says it will only call off the strike when the government addresses the concerns. ARTUZ Secretary-General, Robson Chere said:
And there is negligence on the part of the authorit(ies) to make sure that there is enough safety to guarantee our teachers and learners from the pandemic.They should have been providing adequate water supply, enough PPEs. Arcturus Primary School, which is down here, hasn’t even water. It’s messy. It’s a disaster. We are sitting on a time bomb for both learners and teachers.
VOA reports that some students around Harare have been going to school since Monday to try to learn among themselves, as there are no teachers who fear that classrooms may turn into Covid-19 superspreaders.
Taungana Ndoro, director of communications and advocacy at Zimbabwe’s Education Ministry, however, says the government has been working to ensure classrooms are safe. He said:
We have been putting in new infrastructure to ensure that we decongest the existing infrastructure to ensure that there is social and physical distancing for the prevention and management of Covid-19.
UNICEF Zimbabwe has been helping students and the government during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Zimbabwe’s teachers hope such organizations can assist the government and supply the resources including adequate PPEs against Covid-19 and salaries that allow them to live above the poverty line.
Teachers have since 2019 been embarking on industrial action to force the government to restore their 2018 salaries that were around US$500.
As of the 1st of September, Zimbabwe had over 120 000 confirmed coronavirus infections and over 4 400 deaths.