‘It is safe to go back to school’

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PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday that it was safe for schools and colleges to resume face-to-face classes following their prolonged closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Daily News reports.
This comes as authorities have announced the phased reopening of schools within the next six weeks, amid concerns by teachers and some parents that it is still unsafe to re-start classroom learning.

Addressing a meeting of the Junior Cabinet at the State House in Harare, Mnangagwa also called on learners and teachers to complement the government’s efforts in mitigating the spread of Covid-19.

“Government has put in place concrete interventions through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and also Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development to ensure that learners return to safe and hygienic schools or college environments.

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“I call upon all learners and teachers who are back to school, tertiary or university facilities to be careful and to abide by the stipulated requirements which help prevent Covid-19,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mnangagwa has expressed concern over various threats to the well-being of children and the youth, including all forms of abuse.

This comes as police have arrested a 40-year-old man, Tafadzwa Shamba, for the suspected ritual murder of seven-year-old Tapiwa Makore in Murewa, Mashonaland East.

“We continue to take several measures to give effect to our commitments to end violence against children.
“I am disturbed by the loss of life of young children as a result of heinous and evil actions for rituals and witchcraft purposes.

“These cold-hearted acts of murder have no place in our country. The stakeholders in our criminal justice system must speedily and strongly deal with the perpetrators so that this evil trend is expunged from our society,” Mnangagwa said.

He also said young children represented the future and the hope of the country, hence the need to protect them.
“Shun drug abuse and substance abuse as well as promiscuous lifestyles. Listen and adhere to the guidance of your parents, teachers and elders,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Junior Cabinet ministers have called on Mnangagwa’s executive to expedite the alignment of child protection laws with the country’s Constitution.

On his part, Vice President and Health minister, Constantino Chiwenga, said the government was working towards the amendment of various pieces of legislation — including the Public Health Services Act to ensure the protection of children.

“What I might want to address in this particular area is that we have been concentrating on the victim, but we have not been concentrating on the perpetrator.

“The perpetrators are the men. They … must be accountable. It is always ava vana nyamhanza vanoenda kunotsvetera vana vadiki (old men taking advantage of young girls) and we need to deal with those perpetrators,” he said.

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