Zimbabwean teachers’ suicides ‘on the rise’

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The number of Zimbabwean teachers committing suicide due to poor financial conditions is increasing, an educators union claimed Tuesday.

“The government must simply pay teachers better salaries. Several teachers have committed suicide because of poverty, several families are breaking up or separating because of poverty,” the New Zimbabwe news website quoted Takavafira Zhou, the president of the Progressive Teachers Union, as saying.

“Many more are scavenging to feed their families or engaging in artisanal mining. Those who retire quickly, fast track into death because of stress.”

Zhou also cited the death of a mathematics teacher last week, saying it was “a result of poverty and penury.”

Zimbabwe began a phased reopening of schools late September. Many teachers, however, did not report to work and instead demanded better pay and working conditions.

The government has threatened to replace defiant teachers if they do not return to the classrooms.

The landlocked African country of 14.5 million people has recorded 8,389 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 245 deaths, according to the US-based Johns Hopkins University.