Government has put around 10 000 qualified, but unemployed, teachers on standby to replace those that are holding the State to ransom by engaging in an illegal industrial action.
Primary and Secondary Education Minister, Ambassador Cain Mathema, told The Herald last night that measures had been put in place to employ the bulk of qualified, but jobless, teachers.
Some teachers did not report for duty when examination classes resumed on Monday, citing incapacitation and lack of personal protective equipment (PPEs) at schools.
Although the first phase of the reopening of schools started safely this week, with no pupil testing positive for Covid-19 following sound measures to insulate stakeholders from contracting the deadly virus, some teachers continued with their class boycott yesterday.
This prompted the Government to come up with emergency measures to ensure learning was not disrupted.
Ambassador Mathema said the Government would not allow a situation where pupils who had lost precious time during the Covid-19 lockdown, continued to be disenfranchised.
“Negotiations between Government and its workers are ongoing and we hope that they will soon find common ground to improve the lives of civil servants.
“Some teachers might want to hold the Government to ransom by not reporting for duty waiting for the completion of these negotiations. What we are saying is that learners have not been going to school since March and the Government will not allow a situation where they continue to be disadvantaged.
“We have at least 10 000 teachers who are unemployed and if the crunch comes, we will be left with no option but to quickly employ some of those teachers. Schooling has to go on and we will employ if there is need to,” said Ambassador Mathema.
Government recently availed a total of $600 million for disbursement to needy schools to improve sanitation and enable them to reopen safely without risking a spike in Covid-19 infections.
It also ordered those who did not meet the prescribed standards not to re-open.
Ambassador Mathema said the June public examinations were held successfully, and to date after this week’s re-opening, no student had tested positive for Covid-19, a sign of adequate adherence to the prescribed protocols.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet media briefing in Harare last night, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Senator Monica Mutsvangwa announced the establishment of Sentinel Surveillance Centres to protect teachers and learners.
“Following the decision to allow for the phased re-opening of schools, Cabinet noted that the dissemination of Covid-19 standard operating procedures has laid the foundation for the establishment of Sentinel Surveillance Centres.
“The centres will assist in monitoring adherence to Covid-19 protocols and promote a safe learning environment. Every school has been linked to a specific health team. This strategy will ensure active rapid response at local level,” she said.
Designated temporary isolation holding bays had been set up at each school for individuals requiring further health attention after screening.
“There is mandatory logging and thermal screening at every school entry and exit point in order to enhance contact tracing and surveillance.
“Schools that are unable to provide water are being advised that they cannot re-open before the situation is rectified,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Meanwhile, the schools calendar will not be changed and a crash programme for schools might be put in place for students to catch up and proceed to the next level.