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Alarm over schools

by Staff reporter
21 Mar 2021 at 08:29hrs | Views
VARIOUS stakeholders have expressed concern over the poor state of most rural schools in Matabeleland South and North provinces which still do not have water and sanitation facilities at a time there are fears of an outbreak of a third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

A report on the state of sources of water and toilets at Mtshabi Secondary School in Nkayi in Matabeleland North shows that water sources and sanitation facilities collapsed due to heavy rains leaving both teachers and students stranded.

Rural Community Empowerment Trust coordinator in Matabeleland North Vumani Ndlovu said although schools had opened, there was a huge difference between attending and learning.

"Teachers are complaining of lack of funds. It will take three weeks for a teacher in Dandanda, Mahlalufikile, Dongamuzi , Dlamini in Tsholotsho and Simbo in Nkayi to reach their schools," Ndlovu said.

"Only urban and boarding schools will survive. Rural schools are in danger."

An educationist, Thembelani Dube, said schools were not ready to resume classes under the current conditions.
"The infrastructure is not adequate. Physical distancing is a major stumbling block. Both rural and urban schools have inadequate structures when the rest of the learners join in on March 22," he said.

"Poor remuneration of educators compared to the uniformed forces is also a negative factor. The majority of educators did not make it to their work stations due to the pay dates. So the majority opted to wait for the salaries."

He added: "Proper remuneration of educators will ensure learning and teaching takes place in those open classrooms. Most rural schools in deep Matabeleland North are very much in a bad shape in terms of additional teachers, and adequate infrastructure for physical distancing by both educators and learners."

Human rights activist Effie Ncube said it was important for schools to open at some point but in a responsible way. "No public school is ready. So there is a danger that most of the public schools may spread Covid-19 at an alarming rate unless the government invests money to ensure that schools get all the protective material needed," he said.

Filabusi-based social worker Sibongile Sibanda said most schools in Insiza rural were in shambles in terms of infrastructure and water facilities.

"They may not comply with Covid-19 protocols and opening them without capacitating them will spell doom for the learners and teachers," Sibanda said.

Former Bulilima East legislator Norman Mpofu said a conducive environment for schools opening will only be created when government provides teachers and leaners with adequate PPE.

Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Taungana Ndoro said the School Improvement Grant was providing schools with funds to do the necessary upgrades.

"While we cannot predict if there will be any cases of Covid-19 or not, we are doing our best through our standard operating procedures to ensure that every school is a safe environment for learning," Ndoro said.

"We are happy that last year, all the learners who contracted the virus recovered and we had no single fatality amongst our learners."

A total of $600 million was set aside by the government to be disbursed to the needy schools for upgrading their sanitation facilities .

Source - the standard

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