Stakeholder Engagement Key For Successful Re-opening Of Schools, Experts say

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HARARE – Schools are not yet ready for re-opening due to several issues that need to be addressed before that decision is made, experts have said.

Speaking to zimDaily various stakeholders including teacher’s unions and student union representatives said the government needed to address many issues before they announced the decision.

Takemore Mhlanga who is the Secretary for young teachers within the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) said the government had not adhered to their own set standards critical for the re-opening of schools.

“I want to applaud the government for producing a document called Standard Opening Procedures for Safe Opening of School. In that document, the government has alluded to most of the things that needed looking into before we open schools.

“And unfortunately, has not yet funded that document because if you want to look in the document we see that there is nothing that has been done first before we open the school. And we were surprised as teachers when we see the government producing a school calendar.

“When we want to compare the school calendar that they have produced and look at what is there in our schools which can guarantee that our schools are safe for opening. As teachers, we say no because even when we look even at the issue of teacher’s salary, the government has not agreed with teachers,”

He said the government should address the teacher’s salary issue because the teachers were not yet ready to go to school while they are earning peanuts.

Mhlanga added that some schools did not even have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).

“The student, are they ready to go back into classes? Is the government providing sanitiser and masks for all learners? Some of our schools up to now don’t have sanitisers, masks and even running water,” he added.

Commenting on the same issue, Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) National Coordinator

“I think we need to applaud the government for saving the education sector though with some reservations of some sort in terms of the government’s preparedness and the aspect of the safety of students. Looking also at the stakeholder engagement with key relevant stakeholders.

“Currently all these reservations that are coming it’s all because the government has not been able to reach out to key stakeholders, the teachers themselves, various unions and parents in terms of how we can collectively save the education sector. But our current challenge goes to the safety of the child or student in terms of opening of schools. Is our government prepared enough to ensure that our lecturers have got enough PPEs.?Do our children also have enough PPEs like masks,” Gwenzi said.

He also reiterated the need to address the issue of the remuneration of teachers.

Gwenzi added that there was a need for clarity in terms of the vaccination roll out and how students fitted in the programme as it was key if we are to save the education sector, adding that teachers were also some of the people who ought to be prioritised in the vaccination programme.

Government this week announced the re-opening of schools with exam classes set to go back to school on the 15th of March while the rest of the students re-open a week after.

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