Apartheid examinations must fall

The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council, ZIMSEC once again announced an exclusionary examinations’ calendar. Grade 7, Ordinary level and Advanced level examinations are to be conducted this November 2020 as scheduled. The examinations will be forced down the throats of over 650 000 unprepared learners who had no access to remote learning after COVID19 induced schools closure of 24 March 2020. An average of 32 000 elite learners who enjoyed exclusionary access to online learning will be ready for these apartheid examinations.

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word which literally means apart from us. It has since been adopted to describe a form of governance. Apartheid is a system of governance anchored on discriminating along lines of gender, race etc. The Zimbabwe state has adopted an apartheid form of governance under which access to fundamental rights and freedoms is discriminated along class lines. The poor and the majority governed are denied basic rights and freedoms which are a preserve of the ruling elites and at times the rich. The November examinations are a perpetuation of the apartheid system, under which the right to education is now a preserve of the rich minority who have access to online learning.

Examination candidates have lost 5 solid months of learning time in the critical final year of their studies. They are likely to lose more. Traditionally these lost months are dedicated to completing the syllabi and embarking on a robust revision process to recall concepts covered in the first academic year of the two year course. It is practically impossible to frog march these ill prepared learners into the examination room and expect them cough out good results. Apart from the minority elite learners, the rest will fail.

The proposal to open schools in September, is definitely going to be resisted by the underpaid teachers. Teachers’ salaries were illegally slashed from USD 520 to the current USD 30 per month. It should be noted that schools are not only closed for safety from CIVID19, schools are also closed because teachers are reluctant to report back for duty until their salaries are paid in a stable currency. A labour dispute between teachers and their employer which has been simmering over the months will come to light if schools are forcibly opened in September. Teachers are not going to report for duty in protest of the apartheid salary payment regime, apart from government Ministers and Senior Civil Servants no one else is being paid a salary in a stable currency. More learning time will be lost as the labour dispute rages on, hampering learner preparedness for November 2020 examinations. Nurses have been on strike for over 60 days but their salary grievance remains unresolved, if the same happens in education, no learning will take place until the day November examinations kick start.

The learners have also suffered psychological trauma as a result of the COVID19 inspired movement restrictions. Learners have been confined to their homes since 31 March to date. The confinement is highly traumatic and triggers mental health problems. It will be cruel to force such learners into an examination room without providing therapy for the learners. Again apart from the elites who can afford to pay for private counselling sessions no one else will have access to therapy.

We have tabled proposals to government on offline remote learning. Our proposals were ignored as they were going to benefit the othered class.

Our proposal is to move the November examinations to May 2021, to afford learners time to prepare. Government should also urgently attend to our 4th of May position paper which detailed a roadmap to safe schools opening. Teacher salaries should be paid in a stable currency to avert a looming job action which will disrupt learning.

We call upon parents, learners and teachers to come together and dismantle the apartheid system of education. The right to education as espoused in section 75 of Zimbabwe’s constitution should be respected. Discrimination is outlawed in section 56 of our constitution. The agency of education stakeholders is needed now than ever. Lets unite and protect the right to education.

Down with an apartheid system of education.

Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)

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