Teachers’Rural Hardship Allowance Needs Speedy Implementation PDF Print E-mail

 


Calls for the reintroduction of the Rural Hardship Allowance for teachers have been on –going for some time in Zimbabwe but the Government of National Unity (GNU), seems not to be in a hurry to implement this allowance.

 

Created: 07 July 2012

 

By Daisy Zambuko

ZIMTA Public Relations Officer

 

 

 

 

Teacher trade unions are still calling on the employer to pay incentives to rural teachers. With proper planning and implementation, Unions are convinced this should and can be done promptly.
Getting qualified personnel  to teach in the rural schools has been difficult for the employer; this is mostly because of the living conditions obtaining in these rural communities and schools in particular, yet in the past qualified teachers have been lured to the same schools that are being shunned today. According to a survey,  carried out by the Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association, (ZIMTA), it appeared that most schools were run on average by a few trained teachers and in some cases just one trained teacher while the majority were untrained personnel.
Hope was raised earlier this year (May, 2012) when during a Parliamentary Committee hearing, the then Permanent Secretary of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, Dr.  Stephen Mahere was quoted saying,” We will for a start offer for, example, 30 percent of their salary and see how many are attracted. If it is a small number attracted, we might increase it to 40 percent and if they are happy it will remain like that,” The rural allowance is not a luxury, for the teacher in the rural community, it has become a necessity which is long overdue and needs to be implemented without further delay.
The reason for the unavailability of teachers in the rural communities, has been established to be low remuneration and poor living and working conditions, but above all, a lack of incentive from the employer. As teachers fight hard for the improvement of their salaries, the government has been slow to respond to their monetary demands and living conditions. The paradox is that performance  demands on the starving teacher keep on rising while there isno corresponding effort on the part of the employer to pay a living wage.
The few trained teachers that   have been deployed   to rural   and remote districts   face untold challenges that some of their counterparts in the urban areas have not heard of. Low remuneration is a common teacher challenge but what differs is that those in urban areas, fortunately, are cushioned by the community through incentive. Those very lucky ones in private schools receive quite high incentives. There are also those in government schools receiving good packages in terms of incentives depending on which community the school is located. Teachers in these areas also call for improved salaries from the employer, but their calls are not as deafening as those in the not so well to do communities. The not so well to do communities tend to be in the majority and this is where most  teachers are.
Some high density suburbs seem to do better than others, while in others  some  parents have slight problems with paying incentives but eventually they do pay. Then there are those not so well to do communities, where parents have to be constantly reminded to pay both the  school fees and the levies. These are the areas where the talk of incentive becomes meaningless to the trained teacher. The community cannot afford it.
Zimbabwe has a huge number of rural schools.. In these areas, the teacher is the icon of success because of their education and employment opportunity. In this type of community the teacher does not expect an incentive. The question raised in this community is who then will pay the incentive?
Members of the teaching fraternity have been divided on the basis of those receiving incentive and those who don’t. Naturally those receiving incentives are better motivated than those who do not.
Any normal compensation or pay model would recognize equal qualifications, experience and performance with equal pay. However in Zimbabwe, remuneration for teachers is now dependent and directly related to the socio-economic status of the community where the school is located.
Trade Unions are calling on the government not to divide members of the profession through incentives or distances.  Trade Unions are not calling   for anything absurd by asking the government to take over its role of paying the rural teacher the incentive, which is called the rural hardship allowance.
One needs to spend a day , a week or a month in a rural p school, where teachers walk  distances travel long distances to  access transport at the nearest growth point, in order to appreciate the sacrifice,  one has to make in order to gain employment as a teacher. Teachers’ Unions, must continue to negotiate for better , But the  re-introduction of the rural hardship allowance   is an urgent matter.

 

 

 

 

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