The teachers have accused Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema of allegedly misleading Cabinet on authorities’ state of preparedness. At the same time, Mathema has dismissed the teachers’ concerns while declaring that partial-reopening of examination classes will go ahead tomorrow as planned.
Public schools will reopen on September 28 for Zimsec examination classes, with Cambridge classes starting tomorrow. In a scathing letter to Mathema last week, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said educators were shocked that their input and advice to stop the re-opening of schools was ignored.
“It is with disbelief, shock, and surprise that we note that you have hoodwinked Cabinet and other stakeholders into the false belief that your ministry is ready to reopen schools, which we believe has led to Cabinet resolving that schools should reopen on 14 and 28 September for those writing Zimsec exams.
“We also note that Zimsec has also promised that Grade Seven examinations will be written, marked and results published in December, which we believe is both impractical and imprudent,” Majongwe said in his letter.
He said teachers were particularly unhappy that Mathema allegedly made the Cabinet pass the resolution on the basis of advice from an organization called NASID whose members were not education practitioners.
“We note that you pretended to consult stakeholders, only one group of which called for the reopening of schools. “Recommendations by the PTUZ, the Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) and the National Association of Secondary Heads indicated that schools are not ready to reopen because a lot of material and moral comfort as well as WHO regulations have not been met,” Majongwe further said.
But Mathema told the Daily News on Sunday that there was no going back on the government’s plans to reopen schools after his ministry successfully ran the June Zimsec examinations with no cases of Covid-19 reported in schools.
“The same people who were raising red flags when we ran the June exams are the same people making noise again. We are going ahead whether they like it or not. We are ready to go,” Mathema said defiantly.
In the letter, Majongwe said a survey carried out by teacher organizations indicated that despite getting $3oom for the purpose of ensuring schools have personal protection equipment, sanitizers, and Covid-19 necessities, nothing had been received by schools. He said the fact that no COVID-19 cases were recorded in schools during the June exams was because no one was ever tested.
“We know that your ministry also does not have the capacity to test anyone and will, therefore, claim that there is no Covid-19 case in schools. We demand that all teachers, learners, and ancillary staff be tested in the week approaching the opening date,” Majongwe also said.
Zimta chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu concurred with Majongwe, saying the majority of schools in rural areas were the least prepared to open this month.
“We are worried about what measures are there for learners with underlying health problems, transport facilities for teachers and learners who are crowded.
“The number that will be coming is bigger compared to the numbers who came for June examinations. What the government has done so far is not enough so we are saying we must evaluate the state of preparedness one week before we open,” Ndlovu said.
On the other hand, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said its consultations with its members, parents, and learners had shown that none of them were ready.