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Schools to open despite flood alert

by Staff reporter
08 Jan 2023 at 09:31hrs | Views
SCHOOLS will open for the 2023 first term tomorrow, with the exception of boarding schools in two provinces where the authorities have issued an adverse weather alert, prompted by downpours over the weekend in parts of the country.

The heavy rains were expected to trigger flooding.

Government last week directed learners at boarding schools in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces to defer their travelling plans following an extreme weather alert issued by the Department of Civil Protection and the Meteorological Services Department.

However, schools in other parts of the country have been given the green light to open, amid heightened anticipation of a return to normal learning after nearly two years of disruptions caused by Covid-19.

This comes as teacher representatives have assured Government of smooth reopening of public schools tomorrow, ahead of the convening of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) later this month to lay out the 2023 roadmap for negotiations for public sector workers' conditions of service.

The NJNC brings together Government and public sector worker representatives to negotiate civil servants' conditions of service.

The opening of the schools will also witness the phased roll-out of the State-funded basic education programme in some learning institutions in rural communities, formally known as "Group C" schools, which are now classified as P3 and S3 schools.

Government will also recruit 7 000 teachers to further reduce the teacher-pupil ratio and guarantee quality learning in public schools.

This year could also witness the return of mid-year public examinations, with the authorities finalising consultations to ascertain the value of recommencing the tests.

The mid-year exams were put on hold two years ago, as a measure to curb the spread of Covid-19 in schools.

In an interview, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela said all was set for the commencement of the first term.

"We are ready to open, but the only challenge we have now is the

warning that we were given of the extreme weather conditions over this weekend," she said.

"We have warned our officers to exercise caution.

"We have also asked the boarders to wait a bit, if they think that it is not safe and parents not to take their children to school yet.

"Otherwise, our children are eager to go back to school and we are also eager to go back and start work."

Mrs Thabela said consultation on the rollout of the State-funded education initiative was ongoing, with the programme set to commence when schools open.

"We have been allowed to recruit 7 000 teachers this year.

"In terms of the budget, we don't know how many we will be allowed to take in January, because it all depends on the financial standing of Government," she added.

Government, said Mrs Thabela, also plans to construct more schools this year to address the education infrastructure deficit.

"The country has a very big deficit of schools.

"Every time we try to reduce the deficit, we also witness a rise in the learner population.

"So, the deficit remains at 3 000 learning institutions.

"We are being assisted by parents, by devolution and Constituency Development Funds to develop new schools but definitely the gap is still too much.

"We are appealing to all friends of Government to help us reduce the deficit because we are still terribly short in terms of schools," she said.

Mrs Thabela said the resumption of the June public examinations was under consideration.

"We are thinking of bringing back June exams because, all along, Covid-19 had made it impossible to hold the exams, but we have said we want to try to resume the exams, if possible, either this year or next year."


In an interview, Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said Government remains committed to improving its workers' conditions of service.

"We always have our NJNC meeting during the first quarter of the year and we are finalising preparations for our first meeting as soon as possible," he said.

"I can't spell out the agenda yet, but generally, we will discuss how we can improve the conditions of service for civil servants.

"We are always committed to improving the situation and this is an issue President Mnangagwa has taken on personally."

He said Government was committed to negotiating in good faith and to listening to its employees' concerns.

Zimbabwe Schools Development Associations and Committees secretary-general Mr Everisto Jongwe welcomed Government's commitment to reviewing its workers' conditions of service.

"These are the things that Government should address early to ensure a smooth learning process and, as parents, we are happy that teachers and the Government are engaging," he said.

"I'm sure if there are regular negotiations, we will never get to a point where there are strikes."

Meanwhile, there was a last-minute shopping rush for school uniforms and stationery in Harare yesterday, as parents and guardians prepared for the start of the first term.

Long queues were noted at many retail shops in the capital.

Parents who spoke to The Sunday Mail were looking forward to the resumption of the school calendar.

Source - The Sunday Mail
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