PTUZ president Takavafira Zhou told NewsDay that a raft of reforms were required to ensure teachers and learners’ safety when schools reopen for the first term.
Zhou’s remarks came after Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana tweeted last Friday that Cabinet on Tuesday resolved to defer the reopening of schools by two weeks.
Schools closed on December 18, 2020 after briefly opening, save for examination classes which continued in January.
“A considerable number of people, academics, government officials and parents want schools to be unconditionally opened soon. As teachers, while we are ready to open schools anytime, we are worried that there was virtually no preparation to open schools except enrolment and collection of exorbitant fees for Form One classes. Failure to plan is planning to fail as evidenced by the disastrous Grade Seven results for 2020,” Zhou said.
The PTUZ called on government to address the issue of exorbitant fees demanded by schools for Form One enrolment.
Zhou said it would be foolhardy for the government to expect teachers to troop back to schools when they could not afford to send their own children to school.
“A teacher, who earns between $14 000 and $18 000 cannot be expected to pay US$200 fees and US$600 for school uniforms. It is impossible,” he said.
“Teachers and pupils must be tested for COVID-19 before congregating in schools. Above all, after such testing the government can also execute COVID-19 vaccines on teachers and pupils and, therefore, minimise the spread of the pandemic when schools finally open.”
He said it was imperative to put in place a taskforce comprising teachers’ unions, education and health officials to carry out COVID-19 assessments at schools to check on their level of preparedness.