Zimbabwe’s student teachers on teaching practice are receiving a starving allowance of US1.50 month.
And the trainee teachers are fed up with the government’s insensitivity to their plight.
They have threatened to stage chaotic demonstrations over a paltry payment which is not even enough for a one trip from the townships into town.
Over the years, student teachers have been receiving allowances which were nearly 50% of wages paid to qualified teachers and this has enabled them to financially support their studies. Student teachers on industrial attachment have been for all along able to take care of themselves whilst their working stations dotted around the country. They even had borrowing powers to sustain themselves before receiving their salaries.
The students have, since last year, raised concerns over the poor allowances through the Labour Ministry.
In October 2020, the Public Service Commission (PSC), Jonathan Wutawunashe confirmed the student teachers’ allowances had been increased.
“The PSC has noted that the allowances given to student teachers during the period they are on teaching practice are inadequate for their upkeep and that their allowances compare unfavourably to those paid to their counterparts in the health sector,” he said.
The president of the Council of Student Teachers (COST) Walter Muzamani, told journalists that his organisation was frustrated by the continued lies being made by senior government officials.
Muzamani added that the student teachers’ group was currently engaging with other teachers’ unions with the view of adopting steps designed to force the government to treat them reasonably.
“The government is perceiving student teachers as a minor grouping which can be easily played around with,” fumed Muzamani.
“It is time to prove that COST is an effective organ, so we are planning to hold demonstrations because we have suffered for long enough and everyone can see our challenges. We now have a good reason to cause chaos,” he said.
Muzamani was suspicions the approved funds were being channelled by corrupt government officials for personal use.
However, efforts to get comments over the matter from Higher Education Minister, Amon Murwira and Education Minister Cain Mathema, were fruitless.
The threats by the student teachers come after civil servants have petitioned the government over their eroded salaries.
However, last week, the government offered a staggered 75% salary increase with 25% being effected this month and the remainder in June.