Sunday News Reporter
THE Government has given the green light to schools and parents to work out a pro-rata system for the third term’s school fees for non-examination classes, as some pupils will only have face-to-face learning for 30 days.
Last month, the Government announced a phased approach to schools opening that saw three examination classes — Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper Sixth — opening on 28 September under Phase One. Under Phase Two, next year’s examination classes — Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower Sixth will open on 26 October while the rest ECD A and B, Grades 1 to 5 and Forms 1 and 2 will open on 9 November.
Under the new directive, Zimsec public examinations will begin on 1 December while other classes will close on 18 December.
Under these rules, Phase 1 pupils will have face-to-face learning at school for an average of 60 days, Phase 2 classes 40 days while Phase 3 pupils will learn for 30 days. The majority of schools have, however, throughout the lockdown, been offering online classes, which some academics have said are not effective.
Director of communications and advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mr Taungana Ndoro told Sunday News yesterday that it was procedural that schools management meet parents and agree to come up with a fees pro-rata system for pupils who will attend classes for face-to-face learning for a few days.
“That is the procedure, schools and parents come together and agree the pro-rata system, once they agree on the amount the classes will pay, they then forward to us for approval,” he said.
The Government also scrapped Term Two fees since schools were closed in March due to Covid-19. School management and parents have been holding meetings to try to ensure that parents also contribute in buying some of the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) material although Government has insisted that it has set aside money for to cater for the PPEs.
“The problem is that some schools are now taking advantage to demand too much. We have heard that some schools want to have a thermometer for every class but no pupils must be screened when they are getting into class but at the gate so there is no need to be buying thermometers to cater for every classroom,” said Mr Ndoro.
He insisted that schools have already received some of the PPEs including sanitisers and face masks from Government.
“Still some schools are making their own and as Government we commend that, and we have said we will support them by buying from them.”
On preparation for the examination classes, Mr Ndoro said 631 000 pupils will sit for Grade Seven, Form Four and Upper Sixth examinations this year and preparations have been going on well.
“About 27-30 percent of the teachers are reporting for duty and remember not all classes have been opened so using these figures each teacher is catering for 23 students which is commendable.”
Some teachers have not been reporting for duty since schools opened as they are trying to push the Government to review their salaries. The Government has continued to reiterate its commitment to ensure that its workers are remunerated fairly.
Early this month, the Government awarded civil servants a 40 percent cost-of-living salary adjustment, while negotiations continue with unions representing civil servants over a final agreement on wages and other employment terms.
The adjustment was on top of the continuation of the US$75 a month Covid-19 allowance, which is part of interim steps taken by the Government to help cushion its employees while salary review negotiations are in progress. President Mnangagwa last week, however, warned that those teachers who were not reporting for duty risk not being paid their salaries.
“Government will not be taken to ransom by striking teachers. The Second Republic proceeds on principles, not blackmail. Teachers will be paid for working, never for staying at home, away from their work stations,” he said.