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Bulawayo schools seek bailout from Govt

by Staff reporter
03 Sep 2021 at 05:46hrs | Views
BULAWAYO schools have asked Government to bail them out as they are failing to pay more than $23 million they owe the Bulawayo City Council in water billls and one of the affected schools' water supplies have already been disconnected by the local authority.

Amavene Primary School in Nkulumane suburb owes council $411 000 and now relies on borehole water after its supplies were disconnected. All the schools that have asked for a bail out are Government schools but the exact number of the affected schools could not be ascertained yesterday.

Schools reopened for examination classes on Monday and other classes resume face-toface lessons  next Monday.

Part of measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 in schools is regular washing of hands which requires running water.

Bulawayo has about 143 primary schools, 58 secondary schools, both Government and council run as well as 156 private early child development (ECD) centres and 33 independent colleges.

The authorised teacher establishment stands at 7 856 but 6 417 teachers are in post.

Speaking during a Local Government provincial Covid-19 task meeting yesterday, Bulawayo provincial education director Mrs Olicah Kaira said despite challenges in resources especially in providing water, she was confident that teaching and learning will continue in Bulawayo despite Covid-19.

"All Government schools owe the Bulawayo City Council $23 088 190 and a request has been submitted to the Ministry for a rescue package as schools are saying they are failing clear their outstanding water bills. Amavene Primary School has been disconnected for a $411 000 water bill and the school is relying on borehole water," she said.

Mrs Kaira said as a stop gap measure, borehole rehabilitation support in schools has been initiated and a request of US$3000 per school has been submitted to Head Office for five schools in Bulawayo. She said donors have also assisted another five schools in drilling, rehabilitating and equipping boreholes with solar power and water tanks. Mrs Kaira said schools urgently need a Government bail out to enable them to clear their huge water bills to avoid being disconnected.

On teacher attendance, Mrs Kaira said it had been established that in some schools only those teachers with examination classes reported for duty on Monday.

" All teachers were supposed to report for duty as from Monday and this anomaly has since been rectified," she said.

Mrs Kaira said pupils turnout had been improving since Monday and was now more than 80 percent. She said Government continues to support needy pupils at both primary and secondary schools under BEAM.

"The BEAM budget allocation for primary schools this year is more than $34 million and more than $23 million for secondary schools," said Mrs Kaira. Commenting on the Covid-19 impact, she said 33 teachers tested positive to the pandemic in Bulawayo during the school holidays and four succumbed to the virus while 29 others recovered and are back at work. "In light of the prevalent pandemic we pray that Bulawayo be strongly considered for additional schools especially in Cowdray Park suburb and Pumula South.

"Our mega schools need additional classroom space and we hope they will be considered for tents to create adequate space to enable social distancing," said Mrs Kaira.

Local Government and Public Works Minister July Moyo said despite challenges, it was important for all stakeholders to play their role in educating members of the public on the importance of vaccination so that the country can achieve herd immunity in the shortest possible time. Minister July Moyo He urged local authorities, traditional leaders, opinion leaders and anyone with influence to join in the vaccination drive and get as many people as possible vaccinated.

"We have also heard that a majority of people that are being hospitalised in Bulawayo are those who are not yet vaccinated.

"This shows that the vaccine does help in reducing those needing hospitalisation whenever they contract Covid-19," said Minister Moyo.

He said Government recently added the 14 -17-year-old to those eligible for vaccines so that they are protected. Before schools reopened, Government sent inspectors to schools across the country to assess readiness to reopen and has availed $500 million to schools for the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) and infrastructure such as building of additional classrooms and drilling of boreholes.

The Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Edgar Moyo on Sunday said he conducted a tour across several schools and found them well prepared for reopening.

Source - the chronicle
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