‘Government ignored our advice on school opening, exam dates’

Top Stories Zimbabwe

ZTN Correspondent

Teachers in Zimbabwe say consultations on school reopening were rushed and that Government ignored their submissions.

And the two parties are also deadlocked on salary talks, with teachers threatening to boycott resumption of classes.

On Tuesday, the Zimbabwe Government announced that final year classes will open in September 2020 while public examinations begin on December 1.

It was reported that 15 stakeholders were engaged and nine more would also make submissions.

However, Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said his constituency was given only an hour to submit its views.

Primary and Secondary Education Ministry officials could not readily comment when ZTN telephoned them on Wednesday.

Dr Ndlovu said, “(We were contacted) precisely on 31st August at 1500hrs by WhatsApp message, requesting that we submit views by 1600hrs. Call it a stampeded or after-thought process. . .and you know that Cabinet met on the next day. 

“As Zimta, yes, we submitted our views after consulting the structures. Our submission was given to the ministry at 1910 hrs. I doubt if all our views informed the process. Maybe there was a selective choice.”

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Dr Takavafira Zhou said teachers will only return to work after a salary review.

“If Government fulfills the conditionalities put by teachers in terms of their health and safety as well as the issue of their welfare, in particular paying or reviewing their salaries so that they resonate with October 2018 salaries as at US$520 to US$550, teachers will be ready to go and open schools.”

Zimbabwe shut schools in March 2020 after it recorded Covid-19 cases and went on lockdown.

Pupils have variably been learning via virtual platforms as uncertainty on resumption of normal classes lingered.

Authorities say safety and anti-Covid-19 regulations will be observed.

It is, however, still unclear when other students will go back to school.