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‘Manicaland Schools Well Equipped For Re-opening’

MUTARE- Provincial education officials say the province has received adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to commence learning activities.

Addressing a Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) press club session, Manicaland acting Provincial Education Director (PED) Richard Gabaza allayed fears of inadequate protection of students.

Gabaza said modalities are in place for enforcement of the Standard Operating Procedures developed with the assistance of the Ministry of Health and Child Care for schools opening in February.

Government deferred opening of schools from the 10th of January until the first week of February on health grounds.

“The provincial schools are ready to open as we have procured sufficient PPEs to last up to six weeks for all the schools in the province.

“We are going to implement provisions of SOPs that all schools are mandated to follow and guide operations during this time of Covid 19,” said Gabaza.

Gabaza revealed that some schools are struggling with learning space as they seek to adhere to the reduced 1:35 teacher to pupil ratio as dictated by the Covid 19 protocols.

He also said schools will utilise blended learning, while sporting activities have been suspended until advice from the health authorities.

“Blended learning of virtual and face to face delivery is there to ensure coverage of the syllabus, in the meantime sporting activities have been suspended and we are hopeful that soon they will commence.

“We don’t have enough classroom space in our schools, but heads have been granted powers to structure learning to suit their prevailing resource access in respective schools,” said Gabaza.

He added, “Every learning institution will be linked to health institutions to deal with challenges which may arise during learning.

“SOPs will be strictly adhered to, including screening decongestion of points of entry so that they do not become super spreaders.”

Moses Semwayo, a parent, appealed for increased support to rural schools that have no access to technical support for provision of online lessons.

“We are encouraged by the efforts that the government has taken to protect students from the virus and ensure that teachers are also protected.

“Government should provide more support to rural schools that are struggling to provide this service to our students,” said Semwayo.

Gabaza said schools heads have been granted powers to make independent decisions on learning structures, including internal hot seating arrangements to mitigate the inadequacy of space.

He appealed for a collaborative approach, and support from parents to enhance access to quality education.

“While the government is responsible for educating every Zimbabwean child, we are supported by development partners that chip in with substantial support.

“We have schools that are disadvantaged that still need our support, even on issues of online learning, gadget support to ensure that our students access learning,” said Gabaza.

“We are making concerted efforts to ensure that all schools have access to adequate learning materials including online, with the assistance of development partners.”

Andy Ziyera, a social economic justice activist, said inequalities and gaps between the rich and the poor have reduced the standards of education.

“Zimbabwe is one of the most unequal societies and this is reflected in the education that our students are receiving. We need to ensure that the poor members of society also access online learning,” said Ziyera.

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