SENIOR STAFF WRITER
TEACHERS’ unions yesterday came out guns blazing, accusing the Zimbabwe School Examination Council (Zimsec) of prematurely declaring June examinations dates when the country is still battling to contain the spread of Covid-19, the Daily News reports.
This comes after Zimsec scheduled Ordinary Level examinations to take place between June 30 and July 20 and Advanced Level from June 30 to July 23.
But teachers’ unions, the Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta), Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) and Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) said there was need to ensure that Covid-19 is totally brought under control before pronouncing the dates of examinations.
The country had 206 confirmed coronavirus cases, including four deaths and 29 recoveries as of yesterday.
The cases have been increasing rapidly since last week and most of them were recorded from returnees from abroad.
“Teachers are not ready to invigilate June examinations. The given dates of the examinations are not workable. Zimsec just wakes up and announces dates without ensuring what measures have been put in place to alleviate the spread of this notorious disease,” Zimta secretary-general Tapson Sibanda said.
“It’s surprising. The announcement comes in the background of rising figures on a daily basis of Covid-19 confirmed cases.
“The transport sector is on lockdown yet the teacher is expected to travel hundreds of kilometres to school under these life-threatening circumstances. Zimsec should think twice about this position.”
PTUZ secretary-general Raymond Majongwe said Zimsec should have engaged teachers before announcing the dates.
“Zimsec has not engaged, but imposed dates. It is basically doing this because they want it done.
“The most important question we want to ask is, in whose interest are Zimsec doing all this. Teachers are not being consulted, this is being imposed.
“There are a lot of things that Zimsec has not addressed. The issue of the time when examinations are going to start because of transport challenges, what they are going to do for people who normally travel from outside Harare to come and write examinations.
“It’s impossible for them to go to their relatives; it is impossible for them to go to hotels and lodges because many of them are not open,” Majongwe said.
Artuz president Obert Masaraure said Zimsec announced dates for examinations while consultations were still underway.
“The announcement of dates by Zimsec was misguided and misinformed. Unions are seized with dialoguing with both the executive and Parliament to come up with a working formula with regards to opening of schools for any activity.
“This announcement undermines the spirit of consultation.
“We will not allow Zimsec to commit genocide against the poor, teachers and learners will only go back to school when safety measures have been put in place.
“No examinations will be written on those set dates. We will block this through both legal action and mass action,” said Masaraure.
This comes after government said all schools and universities being used as quarantine centres are expected to have been vacated by June 9.
“With regard to education, Cabinet noted the detailed operational plan put in place by the ministry of Primary and Secondary Education that was developed in consultation with stakeholders.
“However, following a marked increase in Covid-19 cases, Cabinet approved that only examination classes should initially open schools in order for schools to be able to put prevention measures in place,” Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said during a post-Cabinet briefing on Tuesday.
“These measures include: social distancing, limiting of class sizes, hand sanitisation and mandatory wearing of masks by both students and teachers at all times.
“Students will be expected to return home immediately after examinations.
“Depending on the outcome of the first phase, a way forward can then be mapped for the other classes, and the minister of Primary and Secondary Education will subsequently issue a date for the commencement of the other classes.”