BY NIZBERT MOYO/LORRAINE MUROMO
TEACHERS’ unions yesterday revealed that a majority of their members were yet to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus and were psychologically unprepared for schools reopening which government hinted on last week.
Government last week gazetted Statutory Instrument (SI) 210 of 2021, stating that schools will remain closed until August 10, 2021, but preparing to reopen.
But teachers’ unions said there was lack of preparedness on the part of their members, the majority of whom were not vaccinated, adding that it would endanger learners.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) acting national secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said government should be guided by science on issues of opening of schools for the second term as the third wave of the pandemic was currently taking its toll.
On Tuesday, the country recorded 41 deaths and 1 580 new infections.
Out of the 10 million the country aims to vaccinate, only 1 707 671 had got their first jab, while 832 884 got their second jab.
“If we compare statistics this time around to last year’s lockdown figures, they have more than doubled,” Taderera said.
“There has been a serious scourge. The majority of teachers have not been vaccinated. Our encouragement is that the government must look at the graph. It must be informed by scientific evidence, and then we can talk about schools opening.”
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said: “Teachers are incapacitated and we are losing a lot of our fellow workers almost on a daily basis now. If the government is sincere and honest, it should roll out a vaccination programme for teachers just like what it did for nurses. ’’
Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said: “There are important issues that need to be attended to before schools open, such as teachers’ incapacitation. Teachers are at the centre of the standard operation in education.’’
The teachers unions suggested that government should focus on the implementation of the national e-learning strategy during the COVID-19 era.
Government, through Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa on Tuesday announced that at least 400 schools will be provided with free internet for nine months, and extension of the bandwidth to 180 rural schools.
Taderera said teachers were struggling economically and should have access to free data, while learners still did not have access to free internet.
Masaraure said the e-learning strategy was donor motivated and government does not have a clear plan on how to get all schools connected.
PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou said: “If this e-learning is internet based, then it is as good as useless because 80% of students have no internet connectivity, and there are constant power cuts.”