TEACHERS and Primary and Secondary Education minister Evelyn Ndlovu will today meet in Harare under the cloud of threats to boycott public school examinations that are scheduled to begin today.
Teachers have registered their displeasure over disparities in salaries with other government workers, among several other issues about their conditions of service.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou confirmed the meeting yesterday, saying it would include government and other stakeholders in the educations sector.
Zhou said it would discuss several issues, including that of teachers threatening to boycott invigilation of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) “O” and “A” Level examinations if they were not paid for the services.
“It’s a final meeting that would apprise the minister of an array of challenges affecting teachers such as pathetic salaries and the need to restore the purchasing power parity of teachers’ salaries to the pre-October 2018 position of an average of US$540,” Zhou told NewsDay yesterday.
“While this is a sole responsibility of the Public Service Commission (PSC), the line ministry needs apprisal so that it can inform the PSC, Cabinet and Treasury to address the issue as a matter of urgency.
“The issue of contract/payment for invigilation will be discussed. The current united front position of teachers is that no contractual agreement/payment, no Invigilation unless Zimsec is brought to pay teachers for the invigilation of public examination under its auspices, and teachers will not invigilate such examinations,” Zhou said.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said the issue of boycotting of Zimsec examinations would come up for discussion, among several other issues affecting teachers. But he said the decision to boycott would be up to individual teachers to make.
“To us, the contracts have to do with individual teachers, but at the moment, what we are engaged with is the discussion on the issue of examination management and related allowances. We are not going to look at invigilation only,” Ndlovu said.
“We are looking at all various issues. The new curriculum is dictating that there be continuous assessment, which then makes examinations only a component of 30%, and with that, it means every teacher, who has been involved, is an examiner and in that instance, we are introducing a new paradigm, where we are asking the authorities now to introduce a policy that recognises the new paradigm that will remunerate all those involved in all those activities.
“That level of engagement will see us tomorrow (today) engaging the ministry together with other stakeholders to concretise them on that. Our position has always been that we want teachers paid for invigilation, but we have not yet said we are going to boycott invigilation.”
He said during today’s meeting, teachers would make appropriate claims against government.
“The boycott position has not been communicated, and it will come to that if we have challenges along the way. At the moment, let us cross that bridge when we see it,” Ndlovu said.
Smaller unions like the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe have already made their position clear that their members will boycott invigilating the examinations as long as there was no written agreement to pay them for the services.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro last week made it clear that if teachers boycotted invigilation of examinations, government “will use anyone” to invigilate them.
Ndoro also said there were several non-unionised teachers that could invigilate for free.
Last year, government used school ancillary staff and villagers to invigilate the examinations after teachers boycotted.