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What will a teacher's strike in Zimbabwe mean

21 Feb 2019 at 16:02hrs | Views
Following a lengthy dialogue, Zimbabwean teachers have decided to call off their strike. The talks for a strike have been going on for months now when the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association union decided to drop the strike for now. The option of calling another strike is still on the table if the government fails to offer improved benefits and salaries to its teachers.

Teacher's Strike in Zimbabwe

Considering the economic conditions and the increasing inflation, teachers in Zimbabwe were demanding salaries in US dollars and an increase in allowances. As Zimbabwe made the change to introduce the American dollar in its economy in 2009, an economic upheaval followed. One of the biggest impacts was felt by the teachers, who are still being paid in the old currency.

The union demands teachers being paid in US dollars.  The Zimbabwe Teachers' Association union is also asking the lowest salary to paid teachers be increased to US$ 1,700 from the current 400 US Dollars.

While the plan for strike has been called off, the demand for a higher salary is still present. The government is insisting on a 10% increase, which is unacceptable to the union currently. The union demands a higher pay scale to allow teachers to continue to do their job properly since it is one of the most substantial jobs in the country right now.

The current condition of Zimbabwean Teachers

The current conditions of teachers in Zimbabwe are amongst the worse in the world. In such conditions, it's even surprising that people are willing to come into the profession. It is becoming increasingly difficult to attract and retain qualified people.

Teacher's cottages are at their full capacity. The cottages don't have space for even existing teachers. Some even have to live in the school storerooms because of the shortage.

Just like living accommodations, there is a shortage of classrooms in most schools. Teachers are forced to conduct classes out in the open, under trees. This adds a lot of distraction and teachers are unable to employ resources efficiently in the classes.

The current $400 salary is also quite low for the teachers. Some teachers are working below the poverty line. They are desperate for loans. For many, this means taking out loans and having to deal with loan sharks to pay for their expenses. Read here to learn more about how collections work.

What will happen when teachers will go on strike?

If the teacher's union will go forward with the strike, it will have a disturbing effect on the economic and the education sector.

Impact on Students

Research conducted on the effect of teacher's strikes mostly focus on the impact it has on student's academic performance. It has been observed that students score lower on standardized tests, after a teacher's strike. The affect is more profound on higher levels than elementary ones. Apart from education, a teacher's strike will also impact sports and extra-curricular activities at school. With no coaching, student sports team might not be able to play nationally or internationally.

When it comes to the impact on students, we should also throw a light on how the strike will impact a child's personal development. Teachers act as secondary role models for students. Many students look at their teachers for guidance and even to shape their ideas and opinions. With no teachers, student's motivational levels are expected to fall. Student's enthusiasm is expected to drop even higher in case of an extended strike.

There is also always a chance that with all the free time in hand, some children might get involved in dangerous activities. With no school to keep them busy and on track, they might be tempted to try out other shady means of entertainment.

Impact on Parents

A teacher's strike will also have a major effect on the economic sector. When teachers go on a strike, students will be sitting at home. Many parents rely on schools to look after their children, while they go to work. When these children are sitting at home, these parents have no option but to take leaves of absence from work. This upsets the economic sector heavily.

Apart from financial strain, parents will also experience increased stress levels to manage the unexpected school leave. Some might have to put money in for extra tuition if they want to get back to work.

In some cases, parents might take their children to work with them. Some students might end up helping parents with farm work. Such cases often go unnoticed but have a negative impact on a child's development.

Impact on Teachers

As discussed above, many teachers are living below the poverty line in Zimbabwe. Many are forced to take up loans. During a teacher's strike, they probably aren't being paid their salaries. This means additional financial burden.

With the strike going on, teacher will continue to feel added stress. Apart from financial stress, they might stress over losing their jobs.

In the case of a teacher's strike, all part of the economy suffers. The best solution right now would be to negotiate peacefully, without the threat of a strike.

Source - Byo24News
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