Schools reopening: Consultation is key

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THE reopening of learning institutions around the country, especially primary and secondary schools — though phased and allowing some bit of room to rethink on the part of authorities — has shown just how crucial adequate consultations are in coming up with key decisions which affect people’s lives.
Schools closed at the end of March following the imposition of the coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdownn to contain the  spread of the deadly virus. The issue of schooling affects everyone since one is a parent or guardian in one way or the other.

The government recently announced the phased re-opening of schools starting with those classes where learners were due to sit examinations this year.

Learners who were preparing for Cambridge examinations re-opened on September 14, while Zimbabwe School Examination Council candidates went back to school on the 28th of the same month.

Grade Six, Form Three and Lower Sixth learners are expected to go back to school on October 26 while Grade One, Three, Four, Five as well as those in Form One and Two are set to re-open on November 9.

Examination classes have obviously had their preparations hampered by the lengthy closure although the government pretends that the radio lessons introduced during the lockdown were helpful.

Online and zoom classes only benefitted a few privileged learners whose parents are well-heeled, in the process disenfranchising the majority of learners.

Teachers, who have for a very long time been squabbling with their employer over remuneration and other conditions of service, have not been attending to their classes, opting to sign the register and disappear.

Issues involving their salaries should have been ironed out well before the re-opening. On the other hand, there are schools that have unilaterally upped fees without warning, exerting extra pressure on already stressed parents who also received a battering from the impact of the deadly Covid-19.

Curiously, there are certain rural day secondary schools that have been demanding school fees in United States dollars when the parents have been struggling to raise the Zimbabwe dollar.

The government should have devised an arrangement that would allow learners to write examinations
after adequate preparations. Salary talks with teachers should have taken place during the lockdown so that there would be minimal disruptions to learning. School fees must never be imposed and in cases where it is inevitable to adjust them, learners should be allowed to attend classes while parents gradually raise the money during the
term.

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