Student teacher allowances raised from US$1.50 to US$90 per month

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HARARE – Zimbabwe’s government has raised student teacher allowances from US$1.50 per month to US$90 with effect from April after pressure from unions.

Student teachers on attachment from colleges and universities will also receive a US$75 Covid-19 risk allowance, the Public Service Commission announced.

The trainee teachers were until this month earning Z$157 (about US$1.50) – not enough to buy 2kg of sugar.

“The Public Service Commission has approved with the concurrence of treasury an increase on student teacher allowances from Z$157 to the bottom salary step of Grace C4, currently at Z$9,049 (total package) …,” PSC secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe wrote in an April 7 memo to the Salary Service Bureau.

Wutawunashe said the finance ministry had also approved the payment of a Covid-19 risk allowance which all other civil servants have been receiving since last year.

The memo added: “The general manager for payroll management is advised to pay both the student teacher allowance and extend the US$75 Covid-19 allowance to student teachers with effect from April 1, 2021.”

Zimbabwe’s civil servants are paid in Zimbabwe dollars – but they cannot access cash due to strict withdrawal limits even on their low pay. Whereas the official exchange rate is one United States dollar to 84.4 Zimbabwe dollars, civil servants trying to exchange the money stuck in their banks for United States dollars are given an average rate of US$1 : Z$100 on the street market.

Reacting to the allowance increase for student teachers, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union said: “This is a welcome move. The value of the allowance should however be restored to US$150.”

Teachers are currently working two-day weeks demanding the restoration of their salaries to October 2018 levels when the lowest paid civil servant earned US$540, and student teacher allowances were US$150. The highest paid teachers are currently earning around Z$22,000 (US$220).