Unions counted the numbers of suspended teachers in Zimbabwe at 135,000 out of the roughly 140,000 employed in public schools, after a pay dispute between teachers and the government. Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) filed at the High Court challenging the three-month suspension.
Finding a school open is now a lottery in Zimbabwe. After a strike by teachers entered a new week, the education ministry suspended the strikers on Thursday.
With approximately 90% of teachers in public schools suspended, some schools were abandoned altogether by pupils and teachers when in other parts of the country, happy few could go on with their curriculum.
Since schools opened for the first term of the new year, many teachers did not report for work. They said they could no longer afford the commute from their home to the classroom.
The pay dispute between teachers and government dates back three years when government switched from paying workers in US dollars to Zimbabwean dollars, the value of which has been weakened by inflation.
"The lowest paid teacher is earning around US$80 and we are saying we want a restoration of the salary we were earning under (former president Robert) Mugabe which was US$540," Takavafira Zhou, president of Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe said.
Zimbabwe's largest teachers' union, Zimta, announced most of its members would return to work after it called off a strike over poor wages.
Teachers are demanding salaries of $540 (£400) - two to three times more than what many earn now. The government has offered a 20% rise as well as a one-off bonus of $100, among other incentives.
Application to the High Court
Other teachers' unions have vowed to continue the work stoppage until all their demands are met. Since their suspension, teachers accused the government of forcing them to return to work and many unions vowed to fight the suspensions in court. Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) filed at the High Court challenging the three-month suspension.
Unions counted the numbers of suspended teachers in Zimbabwe at 135,000 out of the roughly 140,000 employed in public schools.