FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa has put himself on a collision course with parents after he recently announced that government would no longer pay Early Childhood Development (ECD) teachers’ salaries, asking parents to foot the wage bills.
Parents in Bulawayo yesterday told Southern Eye that Cabinet should not have approved the ECD programme in the first place if it did not plan to fund it.
The parents said they would soon lobby for the scrapping of ECD classes until such a time when government has secured funding for the teachers.
“The government should not pass the buck to parents, we do not have money,” a parent who declined to be named said.
Mgoqo Primary School development committee chairperson Nelson Phiri said they could not afford to pay the four ECD teachers at the school and asked government to shoulder the responsibility.
“At times, as the chairperson, one has to go around with a bowl begging for donations for these teachers to be paid,” he said.
Phiri said the government, as the responsible authority, should not put this burden on parents and schools.
His sentiments were echoed by several parents, who called on government to scrap off the ECD programme if Treasury had no funding for it.
Chinamasa announced that the government will not recruit the 6 000 ECD teachers, arguing they were a huge drain on the fiscus.
In his 2018 National Budget statement, Chinamasa said: “Parents and communities have, over a long time, demonstrated commitment to complement government efforts to provide education services . . . In this regard, government will continue to complement the efforts of parents, particularly in urban areas with the major interventions being to provide the necessary guidance over ECD curriculum and teaching standards. This will allow operations of existing former creche/nursery schools to continue providing ECD education, under the supervision of government.
“This development will, therefore, obviate the need for recruitment of an additional 5 907 teachers at Budget expense for ECD levels . . . Parents and communities participation in supporting the provision of ECD schooling services will save the fiscus an additional $36 million in employment costs per annum.”
Primary and Secondary Education permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango last week reiterated that parents should bear all costs.
“Nothing has changed and freezing these posts is a cost-cutting measure. The ministry, together with parents, should come up with solutions. We could rationalise those in the system, reskill them and rationalise, re-assign them to other areas,’’ she said.