Government of Zimbabwe is doing its best to safeguard the commencement of the 2021 academic calendar following a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.
Presenting at a Cabinet press briefing, Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Monica Mutsvangwa said the responsible Ministry of Primary and Secondary education is working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care to prepare the re-opening of schools.
“Meanwhile, the training of school health coordinators and the assessment of the schools’ preparations for the resumption of learning is ongoing,” said Mutsvangwa.
In an interview with BusinessMail, Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure confirmed teachers’ readiness pertaining the inevitable re-opening of schools.
“Teachers are prepared to go back to the classroom as early as yesterday, we miss the classroom and we know that learners especially those from poor backgrounds are lagging behind, we need to help them out of the situation,” Masaraure said.
However the state of teachers’ preparedness comes with expectations from the government which include COVID-19 vaccination to willing teachers, adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all schools, salary increment and COVID-19 tests to all students.
Due to the unmatched effects of COVID-19, Zimbabwe recorded a lower percent of 37,11 percent which represented a decrease of 9.79 percent from the 46.9 percent recorded in 2019.
“We also expect that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education allows all learners who sat for grade 7 examinations in 2020 to re-write the examinations if they desire to,” Masaraure said.
Teachers are incapacitated, in the light of that, Masaraure established that if government does not pay teachers a living wage, a strike is inescapable.
“Teachers expect the government to pay them a salary in the United States Dollars (USD) and it must be a result of collective bargaining. As it stands teachers are demanding USD$520 or equivalent.
“It is up to the government to take us back to the classroom, this time no amount of increment nor promises will motivate us or take us back to the classroom rather a deposition of a negotiated USD salary,” Masaraure said.
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