Judith Phiri, Sunday News Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) has said there will be no examinations in June, while the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has cast a shadow of doubt to the resumption of sporting activities, boarding school visits, consultation days and all other pre-Covid-19 extracurricular activities.
The ministry said although it was awaiting recommendations from the Ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce Committee on Covid-19, the winter season was too sensitive to the pandemic.
Schools sporting activities, boarding schools visits and parents consultation days are some of the pre-Covid-19 activities that continue to be on hold since the start of the pandemic. The second term however, opened on schedule and there have been no reported cases of Covid-19.
In an interview, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Dr Evelyn Ndlovu, said while they were still awaiting to get the go ahead from the taskforce, the environment was still sensitive to have extracurricular activities re-introduced.
“There is the Ad-hoc Inter-Ministerial Taskforce on Covid-19 that assesses how the conditions are like and provides evidence-based advice to the National Covid-19 Preparedness and Response. So, we have not been given that go-ahead but we have normalised the five days schooling. We have not been given the go-ahead for sports and other extracurricular activities,” said the minister.
She said the environment was also still sensitive considering that it was almost winter season and there was uncertainty as to the Covid-19 infection patterns. Dr Ndlovu said once there was a clear picture as to the infection patterns, they would then approach the Committee with regards to the extracurricular activities.
“We will see if they will be still quiet, we will go and ask them to authorise us to resume the activities, but we still have to be on guard because the Covid-19 pandemic is still there and we are now going into winter which is a very dangerous time, hence we must be very careful to avoid falling back to the former situation due to the cold weather,” she said.
As schools opened for the second term on 3 May, the Government announced that all pupils were now supposed to attend classes every weekday, finally bringing normalcy to one of the sectors that had been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This second term has been the first time in nearly two years when pupil attendance went back to pre-March 2020 levels before President Mnangagwa announced early closure of schools and tertiary institutions as precautionary measures against the pandemic.
The first lockdown was announced in March 2020 and since then, the education sector has been hit by numerous interruptions forcing authorities to run only two terms in 2020 and 2021. This also resulted in public examinations spilling into new years and disruption of start of classes such as Form One and Lower Sixth.
Confirming the continued suspension of June examinations, Zimsec spokesperson, Ms Nicky Dlamini said June examinations will only be re-introduced once the school calendar goes back to its normalcy.
“We are not having the June examinations this year, only the November ones. The suspension of the June examinations has been due to disturbances that resulted from the Covid-19 pandemic. Once we go back to the normal school calendar, only then can they be resumed,” she said.