Tuesday, 19 May 2020

SCHOOLS OPENING WILL BE STAGGERED : MINISTER


GOVERNMENT will in the next three weeks announce more than 820 examination centres for candidates sitting for the deferred June public examinations while it prepares for the staggered opening of schools.
Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) last month indefinitely deferred the June examinations due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is putting up measures to ensure candidates write the public examination with dates for the tests to be announced soon.

It is also preparing for the staggered reopening of schools while prioritising examination classes in line with President Mnangagwa’s pronouncement.

Schools have already started preparing for their re-opening through manufacturing of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as face masks and hand sanitizers while working on disinfecting schools, online learning among other measures to mitigate against spread of Covid-19 in learning institutions.

On Monday, Bulawayo province presented a Covid-19 schools response plan where some of the measures being taken in preparation of the global pandemic induced learning environment, were outlined.

The province revealed that from a total of 371 schools, 119 have started producing face masks for 201 111 learners with a complement of 7 000 teacher.

The province stated that it will educate learners and teachers on behavioural change associated with Covid-19 while fumigating and disinfecting schools in line with health experts recommendations.

The province Covid-19 schools response plan event was attended by Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cde Cain Mathema and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Mrs Tumisang Thabela, Minister of State for Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Cde Judith Ncube and Bulawayo Mayor councillor Solomon Nguni, educationists among other stakeholders. 

Schools in the province showcased manufactured masks, sanitizers and online learning platforms among measures they intend to use to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in schools.

It was observed that online learning platforms such as Google-classroom proved to be a challenge especially due to internet connectivity.

Minister Mathema said countrywide, schools with 4,6 million pupils and 136 000 teachers, should take all necessary measures to keep learning institutions Covid-19 free.

He said if mitigation measures are not put in place it would be easy to spread the virus from the schools to the larger community considering how learning institutions are strategically placed in society.

Minister Mathema said it was too early to announce when schools will reopen.

“We need to make preparations as the President said it’s going to be phased. It’s going to be staggered and obviously we cannot start with Early Childhood Development Children. Because those are the most difficult to control. We will end up with the ECD children. We will start with those who are writing public examinations,” he said. 

Minister Mathema said Government has started preparing for the June public examinations.

“As a Ministry we are ready for the June examinations and the November examinations. Following the President’s statement, we are making those preparations for the Form Four and Advanced Level classes as well as the Grade Seven classes. We are already preparing over 820 examination centres, I will be making an announcement as to which ones exactly are, we’re talking about,” said Minister Mathema.

“We will make the necessary preparations and necessary announcements within the next two to three weeks so that we know where these examinations will be held.”

He said it was satisfactory that schools have actively started producing PPEs in line with Government competence-based curriculum.

Minister Mathema said they should produce even for commercial markets. He called for cooperation among all the stakeholders in fighting Covid-19.

“This animal called Covid-19 is facing all of us, let us fight it together. Let us pass information that will help all of us. Let us maintain good basic hygienic practices, sanitize our hands and wearing of masks and be vigilant of the times,” he said. Chronicle

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