All systems go for schools opening

Source: All systems go for schools opening | The Herald

All systems go for schools opening
Examination-writing pupils and some parents await screening and clearance by authorities at Rusununguko High School in Bromley yesterday ahead of the opening of schools today. — Picture: Deputy Editor Lovemore Ranga Mataire

Mukudzei Chingwere and Farirai Machivenyika

ADEQUATE measures informed by World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines have been put in place to ensure schools reopen safely in the proposed phases, starting with examination classes today, without risking a spike in Covid-19 infections.

This comes as the Government has allayed fears of extortionate fees being proposed by some schools.

Each school, the Government said, should follow the procedure of getting a quorum from parents for any increase, then have it approved by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema yesterday said he would  propose the closure of schools that violate the standard procedure.

“The measures prescribed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care for a safe resumption of classes are now in place and we are ready for the resumption of classes. Everyone is ready and we expect a safe resumption of classes tomorrow (today) as some learners have started going to school,” he said.

Parents have raised concern that schools were charging exorbitant fees to cover up for lost potential revenue during the Covid-19 lockdown.

But Minister Mathema said the Government would not allow a situation where parents were fleeced by greedy school heads.

He said the procedure when a school intends to adjust fees was the same, even if the school was public, church or privately-owned.

The proposals should have been agreed to by parents who constitute a quorum of 20 percent.

“All sectors must embrace dialogue like what the President is always saying. He has invited politicians who contested with him the Presidential election (in 2018) for dialogue and we are saying even schools should dialogue with parents.

“We know that some schools want to make money, but they have to follow procedures.

“In terms of school fees, those who fail to follow the procedures, I will propose that they be closed.

“We will not allow a situation where fees are increased without following due procedures,” said Minister Mathema.

He said those wishing to make profits should venture into commercial activities which include farming and manufacturing.

“We actually want to move to a situation where learners will not be paying fees. All the expenses at schools should be catered for by returns from these activities,” he said.

National Association of Primary Heads (NAPH) president Mrs Cynthia Khumalo said it was all systems go for Grade Seven classes.

“Opening of schools is a welcoming development, but the timing is not very good. Learning should go on in a different manner because we have to embrace other methods such as distance learning and online learning where it is feasible,” said.

“The teacher becomes a facilitator. Parents have to create time and space for that. Gone are the days when we thought learning only happens in a classroom with the teacher in front carrying a piece if white chalk.”

In an earlier interview, National Association of Secondary Heads (NASH) president Mr Arthur Maposa said there was need to ensure schools reopened in a safe environment without risking a spike in Covid19 infections.

Child President Mukudzeishe Madzivire said they were eagerly anticipating the resumption of classes today, but implored the Government to ensure the environment was safe.

“As always, we are committed to our education. We believe that is the only way to secure our future.

“We are happy classes are resuming. But our plea to Government is to ensure the environment is safe by continuously checking on the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE) in all schools,” said the Child President.

Parents that spoke to The Herald yesterday welcomed the reopening of schools.

Mrs Caroline Kangetsambo, whose son is in Form 4 at Bradley Institute in Mashonaland Central Province, said having children back in school would reduce delinquency.

“The move to reopen schools was long overdue because some of the children were misbehaving because of idleness,” she said.

She urged the Government and school authorities to ensure health regulations to prevent the spread of Covid-19 were adhered to.

Mrs Chipo Makanda, whose son, is in Form Four at Nyamatikiti High School in Rushinga, Mashonaland Central Province, echoed similar sentiments, but bemoaned the demand by the school that fees be paid in full before children could return.