Allowing learners to sit 2020 exams ill-timed

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THE decision to re-open schools for 2020 examination classes seems to have been sealed, albeit with little, if any, stakeholder input, something that could have helped inform whatever stance would emerge.

Following last week’s Cabinet meeting, the government then announced that 2020 examinations would go ahead as planned with teacher organisations, key stakeholders in such processes, expressing reservations and arguing that the move would compromise the country’s education system.

They also noted that re-opening schools should only take place when the health of learners, teachers as well as ancillary staff has been guaranteed through the procurement of adequate coronavirus (Covid-19) testing kits, thermometers, sanitisers and other personal protective equipment (PPE), whose shortage has left a trail of destruction in the health services sector.

It seems Cabinet’s decision has nothing to do with school and learning but perhaps some obscure ends known to the policy makers alone. These are decisions they know will not have the slightest impact on them and their children.

Cabinet’s decision must have been premised on the assumption that all learners have been going through uninterrupted learning since the first term prematurely ended in March 2020 following the imposition of the Covid-19-induced lockdown.

Practically, however, schools have lost a cumulative full term of learning time, which should have been used to cover different syllabi that would adequately prepare learners for examinations. As a result, lack of adequate preparations will lead to the majority of candidates failing the examinations.

On the other hand, the schools themselves have to be disinfected for some were used as Covid-19 quarantine centres. Resources for this as well as paying ancillary staff will undoubtedly force institutions to pass on the cost to already over-burdened parents who themselves have not been spared from Covid-19 ravages.

Besides, the government has to provide an effective transport system, especially for urban learners — allowing fluidity of travel to and from schools.

While payments of fees for their children has always been their obligation, most parents had literally switched off from the prospects of schools re-opening this year by merely looking at the trends of national Covid-19 statistics.

The chorus that schools are not allowed to chase learners away for non-payment of fees is not new but we all know schools have running costs.

The government is acting like a referee in a game they are also playing and some of these decisions will come back to haunt us.

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