The plight of civil servants is common knowledge in Zimbabwe. Despite their efforts to force the government’s hand to act on their concerns nothing much has been done to address their concerns. It is a murky issue really because the government is in no financial position to pay all civil servants what they are really worth. A demographic of the civil servants who are sailing in the same boat as teachers. Some teachers have somehow figured out ways to earn extra income by offering extra lessons. On average, teachers earn an equivalent amount of less than US$100. For most who have done this well, they have even been getting way more than their meagre salaries. As relieving as has that been for them it is now going to be a risky understanding; I will explain why in a moment.
Statutory Instrument (SI) 1 Of 2020
The newly gazetted SI stipulates that it is no longer permissible for teachers to sell to pupils. This pertains to selling items like uniforms, snacks and the like. It also points out that conducting extra lessons on school premises is no longer allowed. What was now happening is that teachers would conduct extra lessons after official school hours. This is an effort to earn some more income in light of their paltry salaries. The prevailing scenario was that teachers were now putting in exceptional work ethic when conducting extra lessons. When conducting the normal classes during official work hours they were not putting in as much work. Obviously this stems from their disgruntlement towards the low salaries. All this culminated into a sad outcome where pupils whose parents or guardians could not afford to pay for extra lessons performed dismally. That is the basis for which the new statutory instrument has been gazetted. If a teacher is found to be violating this new SI then being fired could be imminent.
Implementation Of The New SI
In order to make all teachers accountable they shall be required to sign a document part of which follows:
Once again we are seeing reactive policies being put in place. This hardly is a formidable and lasting solution to the challenges affecting the education sector. I do somehow understand the logic of dissuading a framework that disadvantages other pupils based on lack of money. However, is that really going to address the issue? I doubt so. You know why? It is because when you look at the document there is no indication that conducting extra lessons outside the school premises will be illegal. This then brings us back to the possibility of those who cannot afford to be disadvantaged.
Regardless, when you look at it teachers are in a strait betwixt two because they have to survive. Thus, a teacher resorting to conducting extra lessons outside the school premises is something they will definitely consider. After all, most of them have been doing this all along. At the end of the day, it is the government who are left with the ball; they must address the teachers’ salary situation. Otherwise, this new gazetted SI will just be another impotent piece of legislation.
We will see how this plays out because it is always the lack of implementation and compliance that characterises most local SIs. I will state it again; SIs like this one, much like preceding ones, are porous solutions to secondary issues which totally ignore the real causative issues. A teacher is not being paid enough and for as long as that is the case contentious matters will always arise.