SENIOR STAFF WRITER
PARLIAMENT wants the government to empower rural schools by providing them with more resources, including solar radios, to ensure learners in these areas are not left behind.
This comes as lessons have been disrupted since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic which has seen most learners doing lessons virtually or through radio programmes.
However, most schools in rural areas do not have the necessary technological infrastructure to deliver classes over Zoom or other platforms and most households do not have radio and electricity for learners to tune into classes being broadcast on ZBC radio.
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education chairperson Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, pictured, emphasised the need for equity in the sector.
“That the ministry presents before the august House the measures being put in place to ensure that all learners have access to equal learning including online lessons despite their circumstances by April 30, 2021.
“That the ministry targets rural schools with more resources to ensure equity during this 2021year. 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 by April 30, 2021.
“That the government invests in the requisite infrastructure to enhance online learning and universities of science and technology may spearhead such interventions,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
Last year’s public examinations were written after learners had endured lengthy disruption of lessons owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced the closure of schools as authorities battled to combat the spread of the deadly virus.
“That the ministry establishes why some schools have been perennially attaining zero percent pass rate with or without Covid-19 pandemic are reported to parliament by April 30, 2021,” Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.
The committee also recommended that the government urgently improves the welfare of teachers before the re-opening of schools.
“Urgent need for the government to comprehensively focus on improving the welfare of teachers and adequately equipping them before schools open,” she said.
“Teachers be prioritised for the Covid-19 vaccination since they are considered frontline workers in the education sector.
“Ministry engages with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission before schools open for a transitional school mechanism whereby tents are used as temporary classrooms.
“Government must prioritise the availability of water and sanitation in all schools as measures to ensure compliance with 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 the government must bear the costs.”
Schools across the country were closed for the most part of last year due to Covid-19 and are still to open for the first term this year.