The government of Zimbabwe produced Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs for our schools in the face of COVID19. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, MoPSE requested ZWL $ 21 billion from Treasury to implement the SOPs. MoPSE only received ZWL$ 600 million for safe schools opening. The amount was inadequate and cannot be easily accounted for by duty bearers. Schools are failing to comply with the SOPs because of lack of resources. Our schools have become the ideal home for massive transmission of the Corona Virus given the numbers hosted in schools in the absence of requisite safety measures.
This was to be expected. Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ warned government against unsafe opening of schools in our “Education in Crisis Report,” our government chose to ignore our counsel and recklessly opened schools. The reports from Chinhoyi High School and John Tallach among others are just but a tip of the ice berg. In remote areas learners with a fever are just being send back home without conducting any test. They are having to rely on their natural immunity to survive in a clear case of the primitive survival of the fittest. Those with weak immunity are set to lose lives and might not be officially recorded as COVID19 cases.
ARTUZ has launched a schools assessment program to evaluate the compliance of schools to government set, Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs. The results being gathered are pointing to a disaster. The national average rating for our public schools is standing at 30% , which is way below the average. Our schools are failing to comply with SOPs because of under funding. We are set to lose more lives to COVID19 if solutions are not panned out.
1. Postponement of November 2020 public examinations to 2021.
2. Immediate withdrawal of all phase 3 learners from schools.
3. Urgent funding of implementation of SOPs.
4. All stakeholder monitoring of disbursement of COVID19 resources.
5. Shifting all teachers and learners with underlying conditions to remote learning.
6. Escalating remote learning initiatives to bridge gap of access of education.
7. All stakeholders engagement on revising our plan of sustaining education during emergencies.
8. Dialogue between government and teacher Unions to diffuse hostilities and engender a cordial working relationship.
Source: Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union Zimbabwe (ARTUZ)