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Teacher absenteeism: Matabeleland hardest hit

By Judith Sibanda

More than half of teachers stationed in Matabeleland have not reported for duty since schools opened for the first term a fortnight ago, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) has revealed.

The country’s poorly remunerated civil servants and the government are in a salary dead-lock with the former demanding that the lowest-paid worker is given an equivalent of US$475 in the fast depreciating local currency.

According to the country’s biggest teacher organisation with a membership of 42 415, 60 percent of teachers in Matabeleland South have not reported for duty.

Matabeleland North recorded 59 percent while Bulawayo had 40 percent of teachers not turning up for work.

Harare province recorded 4 percent, Manicaland 26 percent, Mashonaland East 30 percent, Midlands 10 percent, Masvingo 11 percent and Mashonaland West 5 percent.

The figures were collated by the union`s provincial officers.

ZIMTA chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said their members were operating in a harsh environment.

“Harsh economic environment and unprotected job tenure in times of industrial conflict, chains members strongly to work and fear of loss of the little that members hold onto made them “shingirira/phikelela” at work,” he said.

He said even those on duty were “soldering on, not teaching, pretending to be working.”

Going forward, he said Zimta should re-energise the negotiation process, secure long term commitment to periodic reviews and do leadership training for leaders so as to help them internalise the association’s strategic goals.

“Incapacitation is real amongst educators,” he added.

“Presence in schools has a misleading effect…holistically the struggle has to be multipronged; demanding legislative changes, securing intermittent salary reviews and heightening visible presence in schools.”

Recently, Njube Secondary School learners on Monday embarked on a street protest against the deteriorating conditions of teachers.

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