BY RICHARD MUPONDE
SCHOOLS have heightened preparations for reopening for the second term with fumigation of buildings and grounds currently in progress.
This comes a week after President Emmerson Mnangagwa said schools should prepare for reopening. Information minister Monica Mnangagwa also told a post-Cabinet media briefing last Tuesday that schools should begin preparations for reopening, saying parents must provide their children with personal protective equipment (PPE).
Schools remained closed for the most part of 2020 after the second wave of COVID-19 struck some learning institutions.
During the current third wave of the pandemic this year, government postponed opening of schools in winter for the second term to avoid more infections.
Government has since published Statutory Instrument (SI) 210 of 2021 stipulating that schools will be closed until August 10.
Primary and Secondary Education ministry spokesperson Taungana Ndoro yesterday expressed satisfaction with progress in fumigation of schools in preparation for their reopening.
“Yes, we are happy. The ministry has begun preparations for schools opening in all the provinces.
“Schools have embarked on construction work to increase their infrastructure in an effort to decongest existing structures and enable social and physical distancing,” Ndoro said.
“Examples of schools such as Ntuthuko Primary, Sinqobile Primary, Makulubise Primary, Mahlalufikile Primary, all in Lupane district in Matabeleland North province have already embarked on the exercise. Other schools with social and physical distancing challenges have also been encouraged to follow suit,” he said.
Ndoro said a number of donors and development partners had begun supplying PPE for the prevention and management of COVID-19 at various schools in Harare such as Mabvuku Primary, Mabvuku High, Domboramwari Primary, Chinamano Primary, among others.
“Boreholes and new water sources have also been drilled at Mwewele Primary, Mahlalufikile Primary and Kana Primary in Matabeleland North province. In Manicaland province, Tonhorai Primary (Mutare), Munyoro High, Chitova Primary schools have had their roofs repaired. Munyoro High School also embarked on the programme of reducing three-seater desks to single-seater desks to allow for physical and social distancing,” he said.
Ndoro said boreholes were drilled at schools in Mashonaland East province such as Barahwe Primary, Gadaga Secondary, Machekera Primary and Secondary schools, while efforts were underway to drill more boreholes at Magunje Primary and High schools.
He said through the School Improvement Grant (SIG), piped water infrastructure was installed at Rukariro, Mayema, Mugabe, Sowa, Chinhanga and Mashambanhaka primary schools, while installation is in progress at Kutsokodeka Primary School.
Ndoro said in Bulawayo, Vulindlela Primary School would open its doors for the first time to pupils up to Grade 4 in the Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai area to decongest Mkhithika Thebe Primary School, while there will be vacancies for all forms at Mhlophe Secondary School to decongest Luveve and Cowdray Park High schools.
In the Midlands province, he said the preparations had seen 35 applications for school registrations, adding that this would assist to decongest other schools.
“At least 217 schools have had their water sources rehabilitated and seven schools have constructed new classroom blocks to decongest existing infrastructure. In Matabeleland South province, at least 25 schools have refurbished their water and ablution facilities in a bid to do away with Blair toilets completely,” he said.
However, Almalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said teachers were still incapacitated to return to schools.
“If government doesn’t change its attitude, schools will never be ready for opening. Teachers remain severely incapacitated and will only show up to work to log in, if they manage to. No teaching will take place when schools open. Government should urgently convene dialogue and resolve the long-standing salary crisis,” Masaraure said.