TEACHERS’ unions have called on the Government to defer the opening of schools and writing of the November Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) final examinations to 2021 noting that learners have already lost considerable learning time.
Last week, the Government announced that taking on from the successful holding of the June examinations they were now laying plans to reopen and hold the final exams. In July Government deferred the reopening of schools to a later date from the initial 28 July citing the rising number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
In a statement, Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said it would be unfair to the learners if Government goes ahead with plans of scheduling the November exams this year, saying there was a need to consider that both the learners and the teachers were ill prepared after losing considerable learning time due to the Covid-19 lockdown.
“These learners have lost approximately 122 learning days and that means the learners have not covered the syllabi, they have not had the opportunity to revise and prepare for the examinations, neither are the teachers prepared to get the learners into examination mode,” said Dr Ndlovu.
He said there was a need for Government to start working on ensuring that schools have in place the required Covid-19 protective equipment so as to protect the learners and teachers when the schools eventually open.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) president Dr Takavafira Zhou said what was imperative to note was that examinations were a process and not an event, hence necessary measures had to be put in place inclusive of adequately preparing the learners.
“The truth of the matter is that schools are not yet ready to reopen and preside over the writing of the November examinations. There are a lot of preconditions that have to be met before we talk of these exams, this inclusive of ensuring the testing of the learners, teachers and the ancillary staff, and the provision of the necessary Covid-19 PPEs. The only time possible for sitting of these exams will be February next year because for learners to be ready for exams, they require at least two to three months of intense learning, it’s important for us to realise that exams are a process not an event,” said Dr Zhou.
He further called on the Government to address the issue of teacher recruitment noting that the backlog of 50 000 teachers was grossly affecting service delivery.
Zimsec chairperson Professor Eddie Mwenje is on record saying examinations will only be written when students have completed the syllabus and when it is safe to do so, even if it means pushing the examinations to December this year or January next year.
He said Zimsec understands that there was little time for students to prepare for examinations given that schools closed in March this year.