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Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

No reopening for Zimbabwe schools

Zimbabwe pupils
The UN says the number of children going to school has fallen to 20%

The reopening of schools in Zimbabwe after the Christmas break has been delayed by two weeks.

Education Minister Stephen Mahere said teachers needed to mark last year's exams before the new term can begin.

But many teachers are refusing to return to work until they are assured of being paid in foreign currency as local currency is almost worthless.

Meanwhile, President Robert Mugabe has replaced some acting ministers who lost seats in last March's elections.

According to state media, Mr Mugabe intends to form a new government next month after he returns from a four-week-long holiday.

He has agreed to share power with the opposition but this has not happened.

Mr Mugabe's Zanu-PF and Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been unable to agree on how to divide cabinet posts.

Zimbabwe has been crippled by the stalled power-sharing negotiations, as well as a cholera epidemic which has spread quickly amid the country's economic meltdown, so far killing 1,732 people.

Fees

Mr Mahere said schools would open on 27 January, Zimbabwe's Herald newspaper reports.

He also urged schools which want to increase their fees to submit their requests as soon as possible.

Schools are unable to put up fees without the government's consent.

But inflation in Zimbabwe stands at more than 200m% and most teachers cannot afford to go to work.

Students are often required to make payments in kind, including food.

In November, the UN said the number of children going to school regularly in Zimbabwe had fallen dramatically from 90% to 20%.

Zimbabwe used to have one of the best education systems in Africa.



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