- Zimbabwean teachers have agreed to end a year long strike after the government promised to review salaries. Teachers had demanded to be paid in foreign currency to cope with the country’s hyperinflation currently estimated at 231 million percent.
According to the state run newspaper, The Herald, the newly appointed Education Minister David Coltart, said the government has agreed to review teachers salaries and address some of their grievances.
Mr Coltart had also reportedly requested UNICEF and other donors for US$ 458 million dollars to kick-start the education system, which has been grappled by long dragging strike.
"I am very sympathetic to the fact that many of the teachers who didn't report for duty simply couldn't, because they didn't even have enough money for the bus fare," he said.
President of the Progressive Teachers' Union in Zimbabwe, Takavafira Zhou, said teachers have agreed to return to work but have requested exemption from paying school fees for their children.
Mr Zhou said that the deal also includes teachers to not be punished if they fail to report to school for economic and political reasons. "We also agreed that after three months, teachers' salaries must be reviewed to meet regional standards of R15,000 ($1,500) a month,” he said.
Early this year, the Zimbabwean government postponed reopening of schools for two weeks pending the completion of the marking of 2008 national examinations. However, to-date, the results are still not published.
Last year, teachers began a year on a very low note, dragging their feet demanding about US$800 per month, which the government said it was ridiculous. Teachers in Zimbabwe are among the least paid in the civil service.
Earlier this month, the central bank cut 12 zeros off the local currency reducing one trillion dollars to one dollar, for the country to be able to cope with the inflation. The government also announced that civil servants will be paid in US dollars.
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