School Pupils to resume classes

LEARNERS will once again resume lessons following three months long holiday due to COVID-19 with parents raising concern over preparedness for public exams which was affected by the global pandemic.

Schools closed on 4 June and were set to open on 28 June but re-opening was postponed as COVID-19 cases and deaths kept surging.

Announcing the new development on Wednesday, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the Government had also considered rolling COVID-19 vaccine to 14–17-year-old learners to curb the spread of the virus.

“Regarding Primary and Secondary Education, the collaboration between the Ministries of Primary and Secondary Education, and Health and Child Care has buttressed the sector’s COVID-19 prevention and management systems.  The two Ministries met with provincial teams to evaluate progress in the implementation of the Joint Operational Plan of the Standard Guidelines for the Coordinated Prevention and Management of COVID-19 at Learning Institutions,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.

“The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education also met with teacher organisations and deliberated on the safe re-opening of schools, among other issues. Noting with satisfaction the preparations for the resumption of classes in schools, Cabinet is advising that schools will reopen on 30 August, 2021 for examination classes, and on 6 September, 2021 for non-examination classes,” she said.

Minister Mutsvangwa added that inter-city and intra-city transportation for learners will be allowed during schools re-opening periods which will be subject to close monitoring by law enforcement agencies.

For teachers the opening of schools brings relief to learners who had been exposed to all forms of abuse while at home.

They said the delayed opening put them under pressure to ensure learners whose studies have been disrupted for close to two years are ready for examinations.

“We are grateful that learners will go back to school because these extensions were exposing them to a number of social ills like abuse. However, the Government may claim that all is set but we know that teachers are going to bear the brunt and forced to work overtime so that learners especially Grade Seven, Form Four and Six write their exams although we know they are not ready,” said one of the teachers from Nyamandlovu who proffered anonymity.

Ms Eveline Nyandoro from Nkulumane suburb said despite relief that learners will be back at school, the Government was supposed to announce at least two weeks before so that parents prepare finances.

She said most residents had lost means of income due to the COVID-19 induced lockdown and that sourcing fees and stationery within four days will be impossible.

“The truth is our children are not ready for public examinations, especially those in rural areas who last accessed proper learning last year before COVID-19. Yes, we are happy children will now focus on their studies but I doubt that as a country we are ready for public examinations,” she said.

Mrs Thembelihle Sibanda from Esigodini added that the Ministry should also consider repeating other grades for learners at Primary who could have forgotten what they had mastered during the prolonged days away from school.

“Our children have been working in the fields and playing all this while since COVID-19 broke out and I doubt it will be wise for teachers to expect them to be up to date since they could not access online lessons. If possible, they should consider repeating their grades even next year so that they are not affected in the future. Yes, we need them at school learning but there is no point in ignoring reality on the ground,” she said.

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