Education Minister, Geoffrey Lungwangwa says the delay to
pay rural hardship allowances to deserving teachers in rural areas is as a result of the verification process.
Prof Lungwangwa said his ministry was still carrying out a verification and audit of teachers in some areas to ascertain those eligible to get the allowances.
Speaking in an interview , Prof Lungwangwa clarified that not all teachers based in rural areas qualified for rural hardship allowances hence the reason why the ministry decided to do a verification process.
He said there was no need for the teachers to go on strike because the Government had been paying teachers their rural hardship allowances and that the monies were delayed by the system.
“There is no need for teachers to go on strike due to non-payment of rural hardship allowances because those who qualify will eventually get their money, the Government has been paying this money, the only delay is the verification process, it is done for a purpose,” he said.
Prof Lungwangwa said the criteria of verification to pay rural hardship allowances was not only done in his ministry but to other public service workers as well, to ensure allowances were paid to intended beneficiaries.
The minister was reacting to unionised teachers in Chongwe, Katete and Chadiza who unanimously resolved to go on strike to press the Government to pay them their rural hardship allowances from April 2008.
Prof Lungwangwa said his ministry would institute investigations to verify whether those teachers threatening to go on strike were all qualified for the rural hardship allowance and normalise the situation.
“ I was trying to get hold of people who can assist us with information on the ground to determine whether these teachers all qualified for the rural hardship allowances but failed, my ministry will verify these issues so that as a ministry we can have a clear picture of the strikes,” he said.
[Times of Zambia]