Exams decision bugs legislators

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Blessings Mashaya

LEGISLATORS have lashed the decision by the government to go ahead with the June Ordinary and Advanced level examinations, which start today, saying schools are not ready to deal with the lethal coronavirus, the Daily News reports.

Speaking before the parliamentary portfolio committee on Primary and Secondary Education yesterday, the legislators said they were worried that most schools were yet to meet World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on the disease.
They also lamented the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitisers and water shortages — among other things — to mitigate the spread of the deadly virus at schools.
“Generally, the issue is that your committee is concerned that what we get on the ground around preparedness (for the June examinations) is not what we are seeing here on paper,” the chairperson of the committee, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said.
Zanu PF MP for Gokwe-Sesame, Gorden Chanda, also said many schools were yet to receive equipment to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
“I was talking to headmasters in my constituency. I have 11 schools saying they didn’t receive any thermometers. They are asking for help from me.
“Madam permanent secretary (for the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Tumisang Thabela) are you saying all schools are going to get the necessary equipment when examinations start tomorrow (today)?
“What the ministry is saying is different from what is on the ground. Things are difficult for various schools,” Chanda said.
Zanu PF MP for Bikita South, Josiah Sithole, raised concerns over water shortages at many schools.
“I have visited schools in my constituency. Some of the invigilators don’t have fuel to go for Covid-19 training. Some of the schools don’t have water,” he said.
In response, Thabela was adamant that schools were ready for the examinations.
“Most of our budget was released on Tuesday (last week). So, we started purchasing, procuring and running with things from Thursday up to now.
“That’s why I say the information I am giving you might not be current, because a lot is happening.
“Right now, we are collecting thermometers from the ministry of Health and so many things are happening. I would like to say on the ground things are changing,” Thabela said.
“On water, we did a survey and we are aware of areas which don’t have water. The ministry of Lands is working on that issue.
“The ideal situation is to have a thermometer at every centre, but that might not necessarily happen,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) said yesterday that the government should ensure that it supplies PPE, sanitisers and test kits before the examinations commence.
“As Artuz, we remain rock solid in protecting our members and learners unconditionally.
“We remain resolute on the point that if WHO-stipulated prerequisites to contain the novel virus are not in place, we will not release our members to suffer the fate of the poor decision of running June exams unprepared.
“On this note, we also want to urge parents to challenge the running of exams based on the safety of their children,” the union said.
“We call upon the government through the responsible authorities to be considerate of our nation’s future as the majority are the youths.
“The government should first embark on a thorough exercise to source the necessary preliminaries to prevent the virus from infecting the tomorrow of Zimbabwe,” it added.

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