By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, August 11, 2016 – THE Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (RTUZ) plans to embark on a 200km walk over 10 days starting next week to press for better salaries and improved working conditions.
In a statement, RTUZ said the walk, set to start Monday 15 August and ending 25 August, will conclude with the handing over of a petition to authorities in Harare.
The militant teachers group said the walk will raise awareness over poor salaries and working conditions they have been subjected to since independence.
“Since independence in 1980,” said the group, “the rural teachers are marked with poor salaries, poor housing and living conditions at school, poor policies and lack of security during election time.”
The group further said it was concerned with the victimisation often directed at some of its members by political parties especially during the usually tense election period.
The walk, which shall be led by the group’s executive council, will start at Mutawatawa growth point in Murehwa, Mashonaland East and end in Harare.
“RTUZ will hand over a petition of ten demands at UMP, Murehwa, Goromonzi Ministry of education offices and finally at the head office in Harare,” said the RTUZ.
“The petition will have the following demands; a salary above the PDL, an upward review of the rural allowance at 100 % of the salary, cessation of the non-transparent pension contributions, restoration of vacation leave and full maternity for teachers on probation.”
The teachers group, which has been involved in a number of demonstrations past few months, also demanded that government deals with the current cash crisis which has often seen its members travelling long distances in attempts to access scarce cash from banks during pay days.
The group further demanded “Infrastructural development in rural schools and communities, an end to all forms of violence against rural teachers, a solution to the cash crisis, full salaries for student teachers, awarding fully recognised school status to all satellite schools and dissolution of incumbent government and fresh elections if our demands are not met”.
The Obert Masaraure led organisation also highlighted that the country should live up to its status as a continental leader in terms of educating its citizens.
“Zimbabwe conceits itself as a leader in the area of education in Africa but this country’s pride is being violated and is plummeting everyday particularly in rural areas
“Some pupils in rural areas travel more than 20 km to school daily, learning in deplorable infrastructure,” said the group.
The current Robert Mugabe led government has often responded with brute force when teachers take to the streets to demand improved conditions.