Public schools fleecing parents

Ngwindi Ngwindingwindi

For a teacher at a public school in Zimbabwe, the prevailing economic chaos is indeed a blessing for them.

There thus applies that saying ‘what is bad for one is good for another’. The teachers have found an opportunity and secured a deal in the hardships of a nation.

Academics and pressure groups have spoken in different fora about corruption of various kinds and levels, and their voices have been so loud on it.

We have sympathized and continue to sympathize with the plight of a teacher, who happens to be a section of civil servants who cry over low wages which are way below the poverty datum line.

It is indeed a fact that the government is enslaving majority of its workers across the board. That is undeniable and undesirable.

As we continue sympathizing with the teacher whom we used to joke about having nothing to steal and sell from the classroom except for a blackboard chalk, little did we know that the sympathies and solidarities would eventually turn against us as parents of children who are taught by that teacher.

They have since devised means to supplement their income which are more lucrative than most civil servants in the country.

The method is called ‘extra lessons’. The extra lessons syndrome has spread in almost all public schools and has no indications of ever coming to an end.

The arrangement makes parents pay the teacher to conduct lessons with only those children who would have paid. This does not mean that the school will stop demanding payment of levies, which will purportedly be used to develop the school for teachers to conduct their private classes.

Citizens may have wondered why teachers’ industrial actions never succeed; the answer is simple: majority of the teachers keep going to work on condition that parents pay an extra fee direct to the teacher which is outside government gazetted levies and tuition fees.

The teachers have fallen so much in love with the extra lessons money such that they no longer value normal class periods, and the scholars who do not give them the USD $3 which they charge per child every week in B schools.

Whither Zimbabwe education system? Our education system has gone to the dogs; parents now prefer paying for extra lessons if they want to have their children attended by teachers than paying levies and tuition fees which amount to nothing for the child’s attention in class.

We may lay blame on the government for not paying the teacher well, but the teacher must therefore not abuse government facilities and children’s right to education for personal gain.

As parents, we must therefore boldly choose between paying the teachers and paying levies if we have to solidify our solidarity with the teacher.

We cannot continue being fleeced through double levying which is what is transacting currently in most schools. The economic hardships are not selecting teachers alone; they are affecting the generality of the population including some of us who have children attending public schools.

Teachers’ unions may make all kinds of noises and the like about the teacher’s plight, but I know that they are aware that their members are demanding bribes from parents and have never spoken about it. Whatever the reason for keeping mum on the issue, they know better, but if they pretend that they do not know, I thus bring to their attention that their members are happy with the chaos because it gives them more benefit than in normal situations.

Teachers are double dipping from both government and the parents, but what is not fair is that they are not doing their job for the little that the government is paying them; they have abandoned scholars who do not pay extra lessons, and then I wonder who is going to attend those children.

This is yet another form of corruption for which the government must be held accountable which I do not see them being able to stop any time soon.

The teachers, just like our traffic police and VID officials, have tasted the sweetness of bribes, and are not going to stop. As parents, we have been held ransom by teachers just because they know we have no choice; we have nowhere to take our children for supposed proper basic education.

We have been forced to bribing teachers to give our children basic education.

Our schools have been turned into some private practices where individual teachers have their own means of soliciting funds from scholars.

The government is doing absolutely nothing to protect parents from being ripped off; the government is reluctant in addressing such issues of paramount importance which have a negative effect on the future of our children and the nation.

Whither Zimbabwe education system?

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