By Wellington Zimbabwe
PRIVATE school operators have been accused of arm-twisting government to rush the schools’ academic calendar without first addressing key Covid-19 safety health measures, due to their personal financial gratification needs.
Both the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Association (ARTA) are adamant that the current environment is not conducive for schools to open, stressing the need to upscale health preventative measures, forecasting a national health disaster if the government doesn’t heed its critics.
This comes at a time teacher unions filed an urgent High Court application seeking to bar the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (ZIMSEC) from going ahead with the writing of the June 2020 public examinations.
“What is the rush? Where are the jobs that we want these kids to rush for?
“The people who own these private schools which are their cash cows want money and these are the politicians who own these schools.
“They took farms and they are no longer using it for productive purposes.
“Teachers have spoken that they are ill-prepared, the conditions obtaining in the country make it impossible for schools to reopen.
“The standards that the government has itself set, make it folly for one to think of reopening schools.
“The issues of PPE’S, sanitizers, teacher-pupil ration, fumigation of schools that quarantined.”
Majongwe also castigated the government for suggesting the use of homemade sanitizers and masks among learners, while the whole cabinet appears on television using masks manufactured in China.
He bemoaned lack of quality certification processes in manufacturing these, “We can’t just be obedient to laws made by the presidium,” he said.
The two unions made reference to neighbouring countries such as South Africa
“These are Zimbabwean examinations, managed by Zimbabwean educationists, so why the rush? Where are the jobs to rush for, quipped Majongwe.
The teachers also questioned the government on the measures put in place to cater to the unique needs of the challenged learners such as those with physical impairments.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure went further stressing that teachers don’t enjoy the long holidays since they are better placed to agitate for better working conditions, including remuneration, when they are reporting for work, hence their position with regards to the opening of schools is in public health interest.
Masaraure called for collective engagements between government and teachers to ensure proper systems are set in place to pave way for schools reopening.
Some of the issues raised by the teachers include the high teacher pupil-ratio in public schools, fumigation of schools that offered quarantine shelter to returning migrants, and quality measures in the manufacturing of homemade sanitizers and face-masks.
Efforts to get a comment from the government were fruitless as the primary and secondary school education permanent secretary Tumisani Thabela’s office phone repeatedly went unanswered.
Teachers are calling for dialogue involving teachers, parents, and other key stakeholders, stressing that the learners are not psychologically fit for exams.
By Wellington Zimbabwe