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Consider Reopening Schools After Mid-September, Teachers Tell Govt

11 August 2021

The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said public schools are not ready for opening, contrary to the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cain Matema's assertions.

In a statement on Tuesday, PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said according to preliminary results from its ongoing national survey, 98% of the schools are unprepared, with only 2% of schools in private and former group A schools prepared for the second term.

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This comes after Mathema recently declared that most schools in Masvingo Province were ready to reopen.

Mathema also informed Parliament that most schools were ready to reopen and the Ministry was only waiting for the green light from Cabinet to open schools.

However, Zhou asserted that the level of unpreparedness is epitomised by the following:

  • Bloated classes in schools
  • No new infrastructural development in all schools
  • Would be congested hostels in boarding schools
  • No recruitment of new teachers in spite of existing school vacancies
  • Difficulties of ensuring social distance in terms of WHO standards and Ministry of Education standard operation procedures
  • No running water or reliable source of water in many schools
  • Lack of covid abatement equipment in schools
  • Vaccination of 5. 6% of the 140000 teachers, against 65% considered safe to combat the spread of covid 19.
  • High attritional weekly and monthly death rates of teachers
  • No vaccination of pupils above 16 years
  • No engagement with teachers who in essence are the linchpin behind the successful opening of schools
  • No concerted efforts by the government to address the welfare of teachers and even salary discrepancies with other government workers.

The PTUZ has thus called for the reopening of schools after mid-September, based on the premise that more vaccinations and high temperatures would have by then lowered COVID-19 cases. Said Zhou:

Any rushed decision for face to face learning in schools could be suicidal and worse than the current challenges.

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