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High teacher, pupil turnout as schools open

by Staff reporter
16 Mar 2021 at 06:22hrs | Views
SCHOOLS reopened yesterday for examination classes with more learners attending classes as teachers reported for duty unlike what happened last year.

The reopening of schools last year was characterised by low turnout from pupils and teachers who were on strike protesting low salaries.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education expects a seamless opening of schools as Government is negotiating with civil servants for improved salaries.

Non-examination classes are set to reopen next Monday. Earlier this month, Government announced a new school calendar for the year.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, said term one ends on June 4 with the second term commencing on June 28, ending on September 10. The third term will start on October 4 and end on December 17.

Schools were supposed to open on January 4 but Government was forced to defer the opening due to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

Government last week shot down a proposal by the Association of Trust Schools to have a school calendar that deviates from the one announced by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

The private schools claimed they were teaching online when schools were closed but the Ministry said all schools have to follow the stipulated calendar or risk being deregistered.

Government yesterday said it was still assessing the situation on the ground and was satisfied with the school attendance both from learners and teachers. In Bulawayo, schools opened without hitches.

A majority of schools in Matabeleland North started classes in earnest with pupils and teachers turning up for the opening day. A snap survey around some schools in Victoria Falls town and surrounding rural areas as well as Hwange town and Lupane showed that teachers were present at their workstations and lessons were underway.

There were no incidents of learners being sent home for not paying fees. Matabeleland North provincial education director (PED) Mr Jabulani Mpofu said schools had received personal protective equipment (PPE).

Reporters learnt that some boarding schools in the province had instructed parents to buy additional masks for their children, with an average of three to five masks per child.

Mr Mpofu said the Ministry had been liaising with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to make sure there are enough sanitisers, soap and masks for all schools. He urged schools to be pro-active in ensuring adherence to health protocols through practising social distancing, masking up and hand washing.

Matabeleland South PED Mr Lifias Masukume said schools had opened as planned and that they were yet to get any adverse reports from the seven administrative districts.

"All is going according to schedule and we are yet to get any adverse reports from the schools' inspectors. we expect to get more comprehensive reports at a later stage. Most of the schools inspectors are still hard at work on the ground, as we speak." Schools in the Midlands Province yesterday re-opened for examination classes.

Schools such as Regina Mundi, Chaplin, Fletcher High schools in Gweru, Pakame High School in Shurugwi, Shungu High School in Kwekwe started lessons yesterday.

"Lessons at my school have started. We have no time to waste," said a headmistress at one of the top schools in Gweru.

However, reports from parents with pupils who attend rural schools in areas such as Gokwe North and South, Chirumhanzu, Mberengwa indicate that some teachers had not reported for duty.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) has threatened to dock salaries for teachers who do not report for duty. Primary and Secondary Education Ministry communication and advocacy manager Mr Taungana Ndoro said most schools opened without incident yesterday.

"I'm still to get a comprehensive report on schools reopening across the country. But what I observed is that learners turned up and the teachers turned up as we are dealing with examination classes at the moment.

"We also had some pupils turned away because of non-payment of fees. But in comparison with last year, there is a huge difference as teachers and pupils came to school yesterday," said Mr Ndoro. He said he believes that most pupils and teachers were back at school as they are confident that the Covid-19 prevention measures being implemented in schools were effective.

"Last year both teachers and learners were afraid of the pandemic. The standard operating procedures which include that pupils should wear face masks, sanitise hands and the implementation of World Health Organisation Covid-19 protocol have seen our learners and teachers adjusting to new normal even in the education sector," he said.

Mr Ndoro said it is illegal for schools to send away pupils for non-payment of fees. He said for the smooth running of schools, parents and guardians should pay fees as it is not enough to complain about schools raising fees where some of them do not participate in school meetings.

"Parents should pay fees, there's a procedure that parents and schools are well aware of, whereby parents are called for a meeting to adjust the fees structure with the school authorities. But some parents decide not to turn up for those meetings.

"Those who turn up agree with the school authorities on the fees leading to the proposed fees structure being sent to the ministry for approval.

"When the ministry approves those who did not go for the meeting cry foul yet they could have attended and raised their voices," said Mr Ndoro.

"Some parents because of the pandemic induced lockdown have prioritised other issues and forgotten the fees. Parents are encouraged to get back into school fees paying mode to ensure that learning does not stop."

Source - chronicle