By Livingstone Mtetwa
The notion that the educational sector is going to presume resumption in a short while is no secret to the Zimbabwean community, but the bigger question is, “are we ready for such a move yet?”
There is no other way except for schools to remain closed during these ravaging times of the Covid-19 virus, and above all there are preconditionalities that must be met before schools open in relation to the dictates of the World Health Organisation (WHO) as well as our very own education 5.0 initiative.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), president Tafara Zhou, said the reopening of schools the role of the frontline workers will automatically be slaped on teachers and educators hence there must be an all stakeholders meeting particularly with teachers and parents to agree on an acceptable roadmap nullifying any dictatorship kind of command and control approach which would not be applicable.
“Issues in coherence with the welfare of teachers pends addressing so that meaningful, non violent and proper learning and teaching ensues in schools for the production of more pleasing results.
Matters of social dialogue that promotes industrial harmony and productivity in relation to the education 5.0 notion are crucial, taking into consideration the fact that government is on the verge of prevaricating and changing goal posts to suit the new world age”said Zhou.
Issues of infrastructural challenges within schools after the rains was also said to be a crucial part, to dwelt on as some schools are incapable of adhering to the social distancing because of furniture problems, renovation of destroyed classroom blocks and the employment of more teachers to meet the more classes created by the need to social distance and the very decongestion of classrooms and hostels must be addressed before schools open.
Zhou further added that the placing of Covid-19 abatement equipment in schools thus the provision of sufficient facial masks and sanitisers, the frequent disinfecting of classrooms as well as the testing of teachers and pupils and vaccination of both must ensue before the very opening of schools.
“Among other things, there is also a need to establish a taskforce comprising of health, education officials and teacher unions that carries a Covid-19 risk assessment task in schools as well as thet levels of preparedness to open.
Any rushed decision to open schools unconditionally would be a suicidal and genocidal move as teachers and pupils are not immune to the Covid-19 pandemic even after receiving the trending Chinese vaccination jab”.
Many schools level of pass rate has continued to decline because of unfinished cyllabuses exacerbated by government’s blind eye and insensitivity to challenges faced in the education sector and lack of educational taxonomy by some government officials whose pledge into office was nothing short of helping people, fundamentally, the government must invest in quality public education that benefits all rather than the retention of pol power.
The current 12.7% educational budget falls far short of Dakar’s framework of agreement by African countries to the effect that government must allocate more than 22% of total budget to primary and secondary education.
Teachers were incapacitated and demotivated to continue teaching following the culling of the salary to US$35, and later US$140 inclusive of housing, transport and Covid-19 allowances which hardly covered costs, hence these issues must also be dwelt upon.
Nothing much has been said by the minister of education, Cain Mathema to address the challenges other than blame shifting after the out come of poor grade 7 pass rate.
Focusing on pass rate is not the preoccupation of education in the 21st century as agenda 2030, besides supporting education 5.0 initiative it also highlights the importance of countries adopting benchmarks towards a skills revolution by 2030. As such, education must now focus on providing life serving schools that support practicality so that students can use such skills beyond the classroom.