The Tanzania Teachers Association (CWT) has said the government must double salaries and pay pending dues including arrears, to avoid a situation where teachers have to borrow excessively from banks.
CWT secretary general Gratian Mukoba said in an interview that teachers borrow to meet key obligations as their salaries are insufficient to cover necessary living costs.
The CWT executive committee had already presented teachers’ grievances to the government “which must be worked upon before June when the government tables the new budget,” he stated.
The teachers’ trade union has expressed the position following a move by the government to stop banks from issuing loans to teachers, except via special arrangement, announced by Kassim Majaliwa, the Deputy Minister of State (Education) in the Prime Minister’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Governments).
Any financial institution or bank wishing to issue loans to teachers must now seek a permit from the Regional Administrative Secretaries (RAS), the deputy minister directed.
He said that the government’s attention had been drawn to the fact that teachers have been failing to attend classrooms for fear of being confronted by creditors. At times they are busy processing loans or looking for money to pay for their debts, he stated.
Avoiding to say what moves the teachers would take if their demands are not met, Mukoba said teachers expect to write a ‘new chapter of history.’
“The government is used to seeing teachers as patient people,” he declared, vowing that teachers were now determined to prove this perception wrong.
“In the coming budget ministers should remember that teachers have been barred from accessing loans, which is another justification for us to be handsomely rewarded. The government should brace up for anything if it continues underestimating us,” the CWT chief intoned.
He said for a long time now teachers have been subjected to tough working conditions, including poor remuneration, all of which have contributed to their poor living conditions. “Teachers are now tired of poor working conditions, absence of teaching allowances and low salary,” he emphasized.
He said due to poor remuneration, teachers like other people could not avoid borrowing from financial institutions to meet obligations, including educational support for their children.
The government should not think that borrowing was a pastime that teachers take up as a luxury, as most of them are subjected to trouble after borrowing.
Teachers are compelled to borrow due to circumstances and they pay through those owing to interests, where the final amount to be paid far exceeds the loan. A teacher may borrow one million shillings but end up repaying thrice that amount, he asserted.
Philip Muhugo, the Deputy Minister of Education and Vocational Training also came up for criticism as he declared that some of teachers’ claims are fake and the government has saved Tsh400 m excised from fake teachers’ debts.
Without saving the cash from fake claims of debt the government would not have funds to pay teachers promoted since 2010 but not yet paid their salary increments, he declared.
Mukoba asked the deputy minister to skip politics and trying to defend the government, while seeking to make the society believe that teachers are wrong.
The government can only meet teachers’ claims once there is equitable division of the national income, he emphasized.
“The salary of a certificate holder is Tsh 250,000 and a diploma holder gets Tsh 356,000 – with degree holders starting at Tsh440,000 - in contrast with MPs who are paid Tsh11million per month.
“This is not fair, and MPs get huge loans while we teachers get small loans and are still humiliated publicly,” he further noted.
CWT expects to sit in June to evaluate the success of their debt payment demands and decide what to do next, depending on government reaction in working on their arrears, debts and other demands.