Parents in Zimbabwe brace for tough times as schools reopen

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PARENTS and guardians have been warned to brace for tough times ahead of schools opening on Monday next week over demands for exclusive fees payments in United States dollars and skyrocketing prices of uniforms.

A snap survey by NewsDay showed that some retailers were selling uniforms and other school consumables exclusively in United States dollars, while others had set limits for local currency payments.

Some boarding schools are also demanding school fees in United States dollars at a time the majority of the workers are earning in local currency.

The local currency was trading at $2 700 for US$1 yesterday at the parallel market, against $1 070 on the official market.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo said workers had no capacity to meet the demands by schools.

“It is going to be difficult for the parents and guardians,” Moyo said.

“We are likely to see a rise in psychological-related problems. They can’t afford sending children to school.

“Many will go to loan sharks, who will wipe out all their earnings.”

Addressing a post-Cabinet media briefing on Tuesday, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said government had put in place measures to ensure the smooth reopening of schools.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said this was not possible.

“The holiday started and ended with the ministry spewing mindless propaganda and threats of arrests against teachers doing lessons in their own time and spaces,” Majongwe said.

“Teachers are disgruntled about their low pay, rising prices and the unwillingness of government to treat them fairly by giving them the same increment it gave the security forces.”

Zimbabwe National Union of School Heads secretary-general Munyaradzi Majoni said he was not aware of any measures taken by government to ensure the smooth reopening of schools.

“We still have contentious issues related to extremely low salaries for workers in the education sector,” Majoni said.

“We still have school fees assistance, which comes late and using a model which all the unions rejected … Our members are not too sure of what is being referred to here.”

Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said schools would be opened, but learning was not guaranteed.

“Measures for smooth reopening of school have to encompass all the key stakeholders,” Taderera said.

“We need sustainable measures for all people who ensure that the learners can attend school without disruptions.”

Source – newsday