Latest News Editor's Choice

News / National

'Schools can't afford COVID-19 test costs'

by Staff reporter
13 Apr 2021 at 06:46hrs | Views
THE Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development (Zimcodd) has urged government to craft a supplementary budget to cushion schools throughout the country to ensure that they effectively implement COVID-19 compliance measures at the same time delivering quality education.

In a report titled Analysis of the $600 million schools re-opening budget', Zimcodd said the money paid by parents as school fees was not enough to secure personal protective equipment and ensure adherence with World Health Organisation COVID-19 guidelines.

Zimcodd said it would be prudent for government to consider the plight of teachers and capacitation of schools since there was discord over the adoption of multiple strategies by different schools.

"A Parliament-led inquiry into the use and distribution of the $600 million schools reopening budget is vital to restore public confidence. Most schools and teaching staff were inadequately prepared for schools reopening. In the absence of clear guidelines and set standards, different schools in different areas have adopted different strategies," the Zimcodd report read in part.

"There is need for the government to issue clear standard guidelines to protect children and ensure their access to education in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reduced access to education for children from resource-poor and marginalised backgrounds will worsen poverty and inequality."

Last week, more than 106 students and staffers at schools across the country tested positive to the coronavirus, raising fears that schools were not adequately prepared to curb the virus.

Zimcodd said reducing child poverty was central to the realisation of the right to education, adding that government should consider changing the Basic Education Assistance Model to a Universal Basic Income Grant for all Zimbabwean pupils below the age of 18.

"The Sovereign Wealth Fund funded by proceeds from the $12 billion mining industry can be ring-fenced to support a Universal Basic Income Grant."

Zimcodd said the on-going salary negotiations between civil servants and government should be carried out in good faith.

"Teachers unions' legitimate concerns for improved remuneration and conditions of service demand urgent attention and political will from government. Clear funding mechanisms to support government's commitment to raise teachers basic salaries to US$520 minimum salaries need to be explored. Teachers unions are to be commended for prioritising children's welfare and forestalling planned stay-aways."

Teachers are demanding between US$520 to US$550 which they used to get in 2018 or its equivalent in local currency.

But government last week said it can only afford to increase the salaries by 70%, which has been rejected by civil servants.

Source - newsday

Get latest news by email: