THE Primary and Secondary Education ministry has joined the Public Service Commission (PSC) to identify and discipline Zimbabwean schoolteachers who have taken to selling sweets, maputi and other forms of light foods to school children during working hours.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Takavafira Zhou confirmed the matter in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com.
“All schools have been informed through a circular about the probing of teachers who are conducting extra lessons and selling sweets in schools during working hours,” Zhou said.
Another teacher who refused to be identified said they were visited by officials at a Bulawayo school to enquire over the practice.
“I can confirm that officials from the Ministry of Secondary and Primary Education and PSC officials visited our school on Monday and interviewed some pupils on who was selling them sweets and snacks at our school. They also interviewed other non-teaching staff,” he said.
Zimbabwean teachers, just like the rest of government’s workforce, have seen buying power in their wages whittled down by runaway inflation and as a means of survival, now resort to selling food items to school children.
Some are also charging parents and guardians for extra lessons imparted on their children.
Zhou blamed the practice on government which has failed to give its workforce decent wages.
“While we do not condone the selling of sweets and conducting of extra lessons, we believe those teachers who are doing that are trying to earn a genuine living because their salaries cannot sustain them,” he said.
Zhou said the only way to eradicate the problem was for the government to pay teachers a decent salary.
“If teachers were highly remunerated, there will be no reason for them to moonlight.
“Some of these regulations which bar teachers from engaging in supplementary income activities and requires teachers to dress formally have been overtaken by events.
“For example, a teacher used to buy a suit with his month’s salary but now it takes the whole year’s salary for a teacher to buy a suit,” said Zhou.