AS the economic meltdown continues in Zimbabwe, school teachers are reportedly forcing parents to pay for extra lessons in foreign currency, which is outside prescribed government policy, state-owned The Herald newspaper reported on Monday.
The online report says some teachers are demanding between $1and $5 per child every week for extra lessons. The practice is reportedly rampant around the capital Harare.
Teachers in Zimbabwe have been hit hard by the economic meltdown including delays in payment of their meagre salaries. Unions representing the teachers say they are demotivated by the prevailing economic status quo.
Zimbabwe’s cash-strapped government has in recent weeks been reaching out to possible donors to help it fund schools including those in rural areas.
Last week, Zimbabwe Vice President Constantino Chiwenga met with South African-based business people who offered to give rural and farming community schools in the impoverished nation a major facelift.
The business people comprised of the founder of African Medallion Group, Frank Buyanga, Evelyn Chakuinga, Brylyne Chitsunge, Harrison Marange and Mark Young.
Permanent secretary for primary and secondary education Tumisang Thabela was quoted on Monday by the newspaper as saying teachers demanding extra payments or forex payments should be reported for corrective action.
‘Teachers are employed to teach during the scheduled time, so whatever happens during outside this time like extra lessons is not something that will be done with the knowledge or sanction of the ministry,’ she said.
Unions, however, disagreed. The secretary-general of Zimbabwe Schools Development Committees and Associations, Everisto Jongwe, said: ‘If the schools, standing school development committees and parents are in agreement, then there shouldn’t be any problem because this is a sure way of keeping teachers in schools and ensuring quality education.’
Richard Gundane of the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association said for some time now, teachers had offered extra lessons for extra payment, but the practice had only been tolerated so long.