Why this silence over teachers` pay claims?
Once again teachers are in a tussle with the government. And once again it is over pay. This time, the government has reportedly failed to pay some of them for nearly a year now.
According to the Tanzania Teachers Union, over 100 teachers in Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro regions have gone unpaid for nearly a year. In Dar es Salaam, a total of 60 teachers in Temeke have not been paid salaries for 11 months.
In Kilimanjaro more than 50 teachers in Rombo district have gone without salaries for a number of months.
We believe that something must be terribly wrong.
Sadly, no official explanation has been forthcoming as to why the poor teachers\' salaries have not been paid.
Despite many contacts, some directly and in writing, no proper and satisfactory response has been received from the government side, according to the teachers` union.
It is sad that the government is putting itself in a situation where teachers are forced to unnecessarily resort to the ultimate tool of striking in order to secure their contractual rights.
For these professionals are not fighting for higher pay. No, they are asking to be paid what was agreed after performing their duties.
We believe that the government knows the critical role that teachers play in our country, in moulding children.
The government knows very well that theirs is not an easy job and that this cadre carries a lot of responsibility on its shoulders in moulding the citizens as a whole.
It is said that some of the teachers have had to depend on handouts from friends, good samaritans or parents to survive.
But not all are so lucky, and the ones without able relatives or friends have had to engage in odd jobs thus affecting their efficiency in teaching.
But the fact that they have continued carrying out their duties faithfully, despite this gross denial of their rights, speaks volumes about how committed to the profession they are.
If the government was unaware of the plight of these teachers, it must now respond to this positive gesture of commitment and patience from them by acting immediately to solve the problem.
That it has reached a point where the Teachers` Union has had to issue an ultimatum to the government to pay the teachers within five days, leads us to wonder whether there is any communication between the teachers` representatives and the government.
In the interest of the profession, we hope the government will take immediate action to ensure that deserving teachers are paid their dues in full.
It is also our expectation that the government will investigate the reasons behind the undue delay in paying the teachers and put in place redeeming measures.
Of equally critical importance is for the government, as the employer, to maintain a direct link with the teachers, so that they are not subjected to undue irritations which will affect their morale and efficiency.
This must be done soonest in the interest of uplifting education standards in our country.
Lest we forget, tampering with the education sector`s performance can only hold back our efforts to create a knowledgeable society to face the challenges of development in these times.