Striking teachers: Govt moves to fill gap

Source: Striking teachers: Govt moves to fill gap | Sunday Mail (Top Stories)

Debra Matabvu

GOVERNMENT will this week ramp up monitoring of teacher attendance in schools to assess staffing gaps and determine areas that need additional educators to cover for those not reporting for duty.

Next year’s examination classes — Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower Sixth — will commence school tomorrow under the Phase Two reopening plan.

Provincial and district education officers will intensify daily assessments of teachers’ attendance registers at schools to establish staffing gaps which could be covered by hiring more teachers.

Already, Government has recruited 2 300 teachers, with an additional 3 000 to ensure Standard Health Operating Procedures are effected properly.

The monitoring will allow authorities to evaluate the extent to which this year’s syllabus has been covered and the methods that can be deployed to help pupils catch up.

Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Cain Mathema told The Sunday Mail that all schools are adequately prepared for reopening.

The Ministry’s communication and advocacy director Mr Taungana Ndoro said monitoring will allow authorities to assess gaps in staffing levels.

“There have been daily assessments going on and are still ongoing.

“We anticipate the number of pupils attending school to increase as more classes open,” said Mr Ndoro.

“We seek to establish gaps in terms of human resources so that regulations such as social distancing can be properly implemented. However, in terms of preparation, schools are ready to open on Monday.”

Safety concerns

Minister Mathema said schools will be equipped with the requisite Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the safety of pupils, teachers and support staff is guaranteed.

“We are prepared and ready to open schools under the second

phase,” said Minister Mathema.

“Schools have been receiving PPE since we opened for the First Phase and it has been an ongoing process. Preparations for schools opening for all phases have been going on for some time now and we are prepared to open schools even for the last phase.”

He said the number of teachers attending class had been steadily rising over the last few weeks, adding that only a handful are not reporting for duty.

National Association of School Heads president Mr Arthur Maphosa said adequate PPE had been provided for all schools.

“The issue of PPE is no longer much of an issue, yes, there might be gaps here and there but Government has been trying to supply,” said Mr Maphosa.

“The biggest issue now is that there are no adequate teachers. Some mission schools have teachers because there were arrangements made between the schools and parents.

“However, in rural and most public schools there are no teachers. At times the attendance register shows that only two out of 47 would have reported for duty, with the two being the head of the school and the deputy.”

He said salary negotiations between Government and public sector workers should be expedited to break the impasse between the two parties.

Salary negotiations

As schools continue with the phased reopening, negotiations for a salary review for public sector workers will commence soon.

Public Service Commission secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutawunashe said negotiations were ongoing through the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC).

“I was informed by the leader of the Government team that the two parties are now working on a suitable date to meet and continue with negotiations,” said Amb Wutawunashe.

“The negotiations will not be for teachers only but the whole civil service sector. That is why there has been a call for teachers to go to their respective stations while their grievances are being attended to.

“Other civil servants are going to work, so it is important for teachers’ unions to tell their members to be at work until finalisation of the negotiations.”

Schools reopened last month starting with examination classes – Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper Sixth – on 28 September. The rest of the classes will open on November 9.

Government recently released $600 million to fund the improvement of sanitation at schools and to enable them to reopen safely. The funds were used to procure PPE for use by learners and teachers.

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