Reopening of schools questioned
GOVERNMENT’s announcement of the reopening of schools has triggered a discord of responses from education stakeholders and the general folk alike, with the timing being questioned by many.
The nation’s education sector continues to be battered by the COVID- 19 pandemic, as scholars have almost lost a whole calendar year, amidst the government’s Phase 4 national lockdown, which banned all schools from operating, as the nation sought to curb the marauding third wave of the pandemic that was spurred by the surge of the Delta variant.
Indeed, the government-initiated consultations with stakeholders from the district to the provincial level were commendable, but what’s coming out from other key stakeholders like teachers unions speak volumes on whether the consultations were fruitful or otherwise.
The Obert Masaraure led, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) responded to the government’s announcement of the schools reopening with a scathing attack: “Schools Opening Dates: Clear Pathway towards Failure – Yesterday 25 August 2021, government nicodemously announced that schools will open on 30 August 2021. The announcement was backed by a claim that preparations for schools had been done extensively. The vague claim of preparations does not speak to teacher preparedness to teach, learner preparedness to learn, parent’s preparedness to fund education and schools’ preparedness for safety in the face of COVID- 19,” stated ARTUZ.
From the student’s point of view, the reopening may bode well for others, while it may be the opposite for some. Last year’s pass rate was a disaster in some provinces, since students had little or no time for lessons, though government introduced online and radio lessons.
It seems the same path for the exam classes has been created, again, and it should be a cause of concern for all stakeholders, such that all stakeholders involved should reach an amicable solution that will also not jeopardies the academic future of pupils.
The above is clearly an indication that all is not as well as it seems in the education sector, as the bickering between teachers and their employer, resurfaces.
There is also the outstanding sticking issue of teachers pushing for the pre-October 2018 salaries, which may probably derail the intended reopening of schools.
However, the national lockdown has also led to a surge in child abuse cases, gender based violence and increased cases of drug abuse by teens; hence, who knows, maybe the reopening of schools fits the bill, and we may witness a change and decrease in social ills, as children prepare to back to school.
Government’s move to commit to the reopening of schools in undoubtedly noble, but it also depends on one’s viewpoint at the end of the day.