By Lloyd Takawira
Teachers associations have rejected the government’s decision to reopen schools this month.
This follows the decision to reopen learning institutions on the 14th and 28th of September this month in preparation for the ZIMSEC examinations.
Speaking at a post cabinet briefing yesterday , Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said , government after extensive deliberations has decided that exam schools reopen and exams commence on the1st of December.
While government reported that it was working hand in hand with relevant stakeholders there is a clear disagreement with teacher’s representatives.
Teacher’s lobby groups are against the reopening of schools citing the possible spike in Covid-19 confirmed cases and poor salaries.
Amulgmated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said it will embark on a nationwide consultation with stakeholders such as parents through School Development Committees (SDC) as well as the health care sector at provincial and district level to assess the state of preparedness in case of a surge in corona virus infections.
“The government position, to open schools on the 14th of September for Cambridge examination classes, and the 28th of September for Zimsec classes before teacher grievances are addressed is inconsiderate.
“We are engaging stakeholders such as school developmental committees (SDA) to give us their view concerning this inconsiderate decision by the government. We are also engaging health sector at provincial and district level to access the state of preparedness our hospitals in the event that an outburst of covid-19 occurs in schools.”
ARTUZ went further to say it fears the health of learners and teachers will be at risk.
“Safety of learners and teachers in schools must be guaranteed in schools. The government must first test all learners and teachers, provide PPE as well as fumigate all learning facilities.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (ZIMTA) secretary general, Siphiso Ndlovu said , they are not in support of government’s decision
“Who was consulted by the Government? Does the government have the capacity to provide a hygienic environment that will not allow the spread of the pandemic?”
Another concern for the teachers is remuneration which they want to be reviewed upwards. ZIMTA added that their current salary is not enough as public transport operators now peg fares in foreign currency.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou demanded that all school staff members and learners be tested for Covid-19 before schools reopen.
“As PTUZ remuneration of teachers has to be addressed. We also cast our doubt on the practicality of reopening and preparing students in time for them to write examinations this year.”
Responding to journalists who had asked on the practicality of having pupils prepare and write exams this year, Minister Mutsvangwa said government was working to ensure the safety of pupils and staff during the examinations period.
“Standard operating procedures have been distributed to all schools,” she said.
Schools in Zimbabwe were closed in March following a government directive ahead of the initial 21-day national lockdown.