This study explored the experiences and survival strategies of teachers in Zimbabwe in the context of low salaries that were brought by the adoption of the multicurrency system in 2009. The specific objectives were to: (i) examine the main socio-economic challenges that teachers are facing after the dollarization of the economy; (ii) establish how the teachers are coping with the challenges; and (iii) illuminate some of the key areas in which in which government may improve conditions and enhance teachers’ wellbeing so as to retain them in the education sector. To achieve its objectives, the study adopted a qualitative interpretive research paradigm. Data collection entailed conducting in-depth interviews with 20 male and female teachers drawn from primary and secondary schools in high and low density areas of the capital Harare. The objective of the interviews was to explore the coping strategies of the teachers in the post-crisis period. The livelihood framework provided the theoretical and analytical framework for the study. The key thesis of this framework is that there is a direct link between assets and the options people possess in practice to pursue alternative activities that can generate the income level required for survival. The interview guide was thus designed to solicit information of the respondents’ income levels; income-generating activities, expenditure and purchasing patterns, rural-urban ties, social networks, and community participation. The key findings of the study were that: the main socio economic challenges that the teachers are facing after the dollarization of the economy include poor salaries, poor living conditions, poor working conditions, demotivation, and restricted career growth paths and to cope with these challenges, the teachers are using the five identified forms of capital—human, physical, natural, financial, and social— to sustain their livelihoods. However a salient finding was that the teachers generally reduced their expenditure and diversified their sources of income as coping strategies. The study concludes with the following three policy recommendations. First, the government should consider using tangible compensation to improve teachers’ remuneration. Second, the government should also improving infrastructure in educational institutions to ensure that working conditions are conducive for teachers to carry out their work effectively. Third and finally, the government in partnership with organizations that promote children’s rights should mobilize resources that can be used to improve teacher motivation. These could include incentives, accelerated promotions and manpower development.
Mini Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2016.