Court bars June exams


Tarisai Machakaire

Government has been barred from conducting the June examinations unless World Health Organisation guidelines that restrain the spread of the lethal coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic are met.

This was after High Court judge Jester Charewa issued a June 26 ultimatum for the government to comply with set guidelines following an application by eight teachers’ unions that raised concern over the current state of preparedness which they argued placed teachers and learners at risk.

Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Democratic Teachers Union, Zimbabwe National Educators Union, Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union, Zimbabwe Teachers Association and Zimbabwe National Teachers Union filed the application in the High Court.

“Justice Charewa has granted an order barring Zimsec from conducting exams without meeting WHO guidelines on safety.

“The government has been ordered to demonstrate preparedness by June 26, failure of which exams will be aborted,” Artuz president Obert Masaraure said in a statement.

In their notice of opposition, Education ministry permanent secretary Tumisang Thabela said the government had the capacity to ensure all safety measures are met before schools opened.

“The government will provide all the personal protective equipment (PPE) and all procedures and recommendations of the World Health Organisation will be in place before the commencement of examinations on June 30,” Thabela said.

Thabela argued that conducting public examinations in schools, colleges and tertiary institutions fell in the confines of essential services, adding that the ministry had started radio lessons to ensure candidates are adequately prepared.

They argued that all educational institutions used as quarantine centres would be disinfected and safeguard measures put in place for all students in boarding schools.

“All precautionary measures will be taken at school level to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and all invigilators are expected to report for duty. Special transport arrangements will also be made for day scholars and invigilators to and from examination centres.”

Masaraure had argued that after the lockdown started, learners, including those in government schools, shifted to online learning but were not adequately provided with requirements to facilitate the lessons.

Masaraure submitted that all learners enrolled at government schools, including those who are due to sit for examinations in June and November have not been receiving teaching instruction since March 24 when the first term was closed.

He said the government had not provided Personal Protective Equipment to both teachers and learners.

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