Felex Share Harare Bureau
Government has banned payment of incentives to teachers by parents and guardians as it seeks to restore sanity and equality in the education sector.The move, which is set to bring relief to parents, would likely put government on a collision course with the teachers, whose leaders yesterday claimed were not consulted over the issue.
The incentives were introduced in 2009 by the then Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Minister David Coltart to motivate teachers to continue with the teaching profession as they were getting meagre salaries.
They, however, became a highly charged and divisive issue as they only applied to a small proportion of schools, mainly those in urban areas.
Some teachers in rural areas never received incentives since 2009 while a number of headmasters clashed with teachers over non-payment and abuse of the inducements. Primary and Secondary Education Minister Lazarus Dokora confirmed the scrapping of the incentives yesterday on the sidelines of the 33rd Zimbabwe Teachers Association conference in Harare.
He said while incentives had played “a critical role at a critical juncture” it was now time for them to go.
“There is no justification for their payment,” he said. “Their payment is not consistent with the educational values they are meant to be servicing. They played an important role at a critical juncture and we thank the parents for that but we cannot continue with a consumptive way.”
Minister Dokora had earlier on told delegates that a circular outlawing the incentives had been sent to all schools. This was after the delegates had asked him about the government policy on incentives.
“You are asking if the policy on the issue is there and if a circular has been sent to the schools. Yes it is there and from here go and ask the heads of your stations about the policy. If you asked them yesterday and they said they do not know about it I do not know why they were hiding that from you,” Minister Dokora said.
Legal experts described incentives as a form of extortion as most parents and guardians paid them grudgingly so that their children could not be victimised.
Minister Dokora recently said that the ministry held wide-ranging consultations with various stakeholders and the effects of incentives on the quality of service delivery had been noted.
But Zimta chief executive Sifiso Ndlovu said government should have consulted them before taking action. As such, he said, educators would not recognise the circular.
“I have not gone through that circular but this reveals that the ministry is not transparent and intellectually honest,” he said.
“As stakeholders we should have been a participant in receiving that. In the absence of that and as representatives of teachers, we will continue to deny the existence of that circular until we have a delivery of that in our hands as a union. We still hold on the 2009 circular number 5 that legalised incentives.”
Teachers’ unions have been against the payment of the incentives from the start, arguing that the long-term solution was to increase salaries and improve conditions of service.
Meanwhile, Minister Dokora said no school headmasters and education officials should stop teachers from planning and scheming their work using laptops and computers.
He said President Mugabe’s computerisation programme was aimed at equipping pupils and teachers with new information technology and those headmasters should change their perception and attitude.