Friday, 6 November 2020

MINISTER : TEACHER INCENTIVES ILLEGAL

PRIMARY and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema has implored schools to invest in viable commercial projects and desist from relying on fees and levies to finance their day-to-day operations.

He also spoke strongly against the mobilisation of teachers’ incentives, highlighting that the practice was illegal.

In an interview with The Manica Post on the sidelines of the Zanu PF Provincial Coordination Committee meeting in Mutare on Sunday, Minister Mathema said School Development Committees that were mobilising incentives for teachers risked being prosecuted for conducting the illegal activities.

Minister Mathema said with SDCs struggling to finance their operations due to Covid-19, schools should do away with the “business as usual mentality” and devise strategies to make the best out of practical subjects like Agriculture, Wood and Textile Technology, Metalwork and Food and Nutrition, among   others.

Minister Mathema said education was a social equaliser.

“Public and council schools are not doing what is being done by trust schools.  These schools have between 12 and 24 hectares of land, and a hectare is enough for them to engage in commercial activities that can generate enough money for the development of the institutions.

“Public schools must engage in commercial activities to enable them to fund some of their needs. “Schools teach practical subjects and should commercialise them.

“All schools should produce their own masks. The country has been importing masks, but we are now producing them in schools. If schools can produce the masks, it follows that they can also produce school uniforms.

“There is absolutely no reason for students to be buying school uniforms from private businesspeople when their schools can produce them.

“If each school can have a textile factory, metal work factory, carpentry or furniture factory, they will generate enough money to finance their operations and not rely on fees or illegal incentives,” said Minister Mathema.

He also called on the private sector to invest in schools. “A Harare company is funding some schools to produce horticultural produce for export.

“That is actually a relief to parents and guardians as well as vulnerable children. They should produce commercially and pay school fees for vulnerable children,” he said.

His comments follows hard on the heels of a steep increase in fees — with some schools even pushing for the pegging of their fees and levies in foreign currency or the equivalent at the prevailing auction rate on the pretext that suppliers of educational consumables are charging them in United States dollars.

Some schools are mobilising monetary incentives — disguised as donations — for teachers and threatening to exclude students whose parents do not pay up.

Government banned the practice in 2014. “No school should demand teachers’ incentives. It is illegal. What is being done is illegal and that explains why some of the teachers are on strike. 

“They are striking in anticipation of such things. No school has been allowed to levy incentives,” said Minister Mathema, adding that affected parents must report such incidents to law enforcement agents.

“We must all put our hands on the deck and stop this cancer. “Let us make sure it does not happen, it is illegal. Parents must report such malpractice to the police.

“Police cannot effect an arrest if there is no complainant. “Expose those schools, formally lodge a complaint and we will take action,” said Minister Mathema. Manica Post

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