The fresh round of strict Covid-19 lockdown announced by the government at the weekend, which has seen the opening of schools being deferred indefinitely, means disaster for the more then 10 000 teachers and ancillary staff working for private colleges throughout the country.
Last year, most of these teachers went without pay as their employers pleaded poverty as they were also struggling to remain in business due to the lockdown that stretched from March to the end of September, and the fresh lockdown measures announced by Vice President and Health minister, Constantino Chiwenga, means it is back to singing the blues for these educators.
“The situation is terrible for independent colleges at the moment,” the president of the Association of Independent Colleges in Zimbabwe (AICZ), Prof Washington Mahiya told the media last year.
“We survive on income from parents for salaries and rentals. We have over 100 000 students and over 10 000 teachers and ancillary staff and we only managed to pay rentals for three months after declaration of the national lockdown in March.”
He said the situation is dire with debts mounting in unpaid rentals, staff salaries and other day-today costs. Mahiya said landlords were threatening a majority of the colleges with eviction.
The plight of private colleges has also been worsened by the new requirement for social distancing in classes, which would require them to accommodate fewer students in their classes or alternatively fork out more in renting more buildings from landlords that would require to be paid even during the lockdown.
“Our teachers and workers are suffering because they have no source of income… they can’t pay rent, they can’t buy food for their children, they have been reduced to paupers. The situation is heart rending,” Mahiya said.