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Zimbabwe: country loses 45,000 teachers to brain drain 0

HARARE— More than 45, 000 teachers have left Zimbabwe to look for greener pastures abroad in the past decade, a new report indicates.

An unprecedented economic decline blamed on the political squabbles and President Robert Mugabe‘s questionable policies has seen millions of Zimbabweans, including sought-after professionals seek refuge overseas and in neighbouring countries.

The formation of an inclusive government between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last year has done little to stem the tide.

Health and education sectors have been the hardest hit by the brain drain, which has paralysed schools and hospitals.

The Zimbabwe Teachers Association, which has been involved in a bruising battle with the unity government over poor remuneration, said only 7,000 teachers had returned to classes following the formation of the unity government.

Govt broke

The association said the country’s 5,200 primary and 1,500 secondary schools had staffing deficits of 30 per cent on average. Last week, the Finance Minister, Mr Tendai Biti, said the government will not be reviewing teachers’ salaries anytime soon because the coalition is broke.

Zimbabwe’s civil servants earn an average of $276, which is highly inadequate in a country that heavily relies on imports because of the economic hardships.

The figures, which reveal the impact of the economic devastation on the country’s once envied education sector is likely to raise further alarm in the inclusive government on the collapse of key sectors. ZIMTA says the salaries teachers are receiving are demoralising as they cannot afford to meet their own living expenses.

Urgent call

“Enduring solutions on salaries, food and working conditions should be reached soon, the situation in schools requires urgent action,” the association says in a new report.

Education Minister David Coltart said low morale was just one of the many challenges facing Zimbabwe’s education sector.

He said huge amounts of money would be needed to resuscitate the sector but the unity government would struggle to raise the funds on its own. “Our economy has been in turmoil for the past 20 years or so,” said Mr Coltart from Germany where is on a fund raising campaign to replenish schools with textbooks.

Zimbabwe has one of the highest literacy rates in Africa but this might change with the collapse of the education sector.

By Kitsephile NyathiThe Monitor

Picture by IRIN

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Direttore Responsabile Stefano Arduini