Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said after a cabinet meeting this week that preparations for the “inevitable re-opening” of schools continued with collaboration between the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Health and Child Care to set the stage for the resumption of classes.
The Parliamentary Committee on Education, however, tabled several recommendations on Thursday for schools to re-open:
- That there is urgent need for the Government to comprehensively focus on improving the welfare of teachers and adequately equipping them so as to facilitate proper learning in schools before schools open.
- That the teachers be prioritised for the COVID-19 vaccination since they are considered frontline workers in the education sector.
- The Ministry engages with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before schools open for a transitional school mechanism whereby tents are used to create temporary classrooms and ensure that learners have more learning time in school as compared to the status quo whereby some learners had been coming to school once a week.
- That the Government must prioritise the availability of water and sanitation in all schools as measures to ensure compliance with the WHO guidelines before schools open.
- That parents with children who would want to repeat grade seven due to poor performance must be allowed to do so and Government must bear the costs. The Ministry must also facilitate for waivers to allow the children to repeat.
- That an inquiry be undertaken by the Ministry to establish why some schools have been perennially attaining 0% pass rate with or without COVID-19 pandemic and report to Parliament by 30 April 2021.
- That the Ministry presents before the august House, the measures being put in place to ensure that all the learners have access to equal learning including online lessons despite their circumstances by 30 April 2021.
- That the Ministry target rural schools with more resources to ensure equity during this 2021 year.
- That in the short term, the Ministry improves access to education by investing in solar radios for distribution to vulnerable learners at either household or community level so that they all have access to radio lessons level by 30 April 2021.
- That in the medium to long term, the Government invests in the requisite infrastructure to enhance online learning and Universities of Science and Technology may spearhead such interventions.
- That the Ministry supports learners with disability with the requisite gadgets for both physical and online learning such as procurement and distribution of gadgets and assistive devices by 30 June 2021.
- That the Ministry centralises procurement of sanitary wear immediately so as to ensure uniformity in the product and also benefit from economies of scale since it is cheaper to procure more (national tender versus provincial tender).
- That the Ministry immediately clarifies on Government’s policy position on payment of fees and other related costs in foreign currency by parents.
- That the Ministry presents to Parliament a plan of action on how issues of pregnant girls should be handled by school authorities before schools open since it is now law.
- That the Ministry undertakes to sensitise Zimbabweans about the new provisions in the Education Amendment Act of 2020 by year end.