Wednesday, 24 March 2021

PARENT SUES GOVT OVER HECTIC SCHOOL CALENDAR

A HARARE parent has filed a High Court application challenging the 2021 school calendar proposed by the Primary and Secondary Education ministry, insisting it is too hectic for the learners.

Zwelibanzi Lunga argues that learners had become used to online lessons at home rather than face-to-face classes at school.

In his application, Lunga cited Education minister Cain Mathema, Education permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela and the Hellenic Schools Trust (HST) as respondents.

Lunga, a father of two children in Grade 5 and Form 3 at Hellenic Primary and Hellenic Academy respectively, approached the courts after the schools informed him of the new school calendar.

“On March 4, 2021, the second respondent (Thabela) released a new revised school calendar for the year following the lifting of the level 4 lockdown on March 2. 

“The new calendar affects the non-exam classes in the following manner; open March 22, close June 4, resume June 28, close September 8, resume October 4 and then close on December 17.

“But there is a problem. Victoria and Ethan Lunga have been doing online lessons since January 4, 2021. 

“The new calendar, therefore, means that they will switch to physical school and continue until June 4, 2021, without a break. The only break is effectively seven days, over Easter, Independence Day, Africa Day and Workers Day.

“More than half of these fall on weekends anyway. Effectively, therefore, the children will learn for six months, with less than seven days break.

“In the 12-month period of the year 2021, therefore, Victoria and Ethan Lunga will be at school for a record 322 days. They will only break for a record 43 days within the year,” Lunga submitted.

He is demanding that the directive issued by Mathema and Thabela instructing HST to commence the first term be set aside as it is unlawful and unreasonable.  

“The cumulative effect of the amount of energy and work they put in, over months, is thus significant, in terms of both mental and physical stamina.   

“To ask them to continue learning without a break is not only bad, it will eventually compromise their ability to learn and focus.

“Whereupon after reading documents filed on record and hearing council it is ordered that; the directive issued by the first and second respondents for third respondents to commence the first school term for 2021 on March 31 and closing on June 4 be and is set aside.

“And that first and second respondents be and are hereby to issue a directive which recognises that the third respondent’s second term can only start in April or May,” Lunga argued.

Mathema, Thabela and HST are yet to respond to Lunga’s lawsuit Daily News

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