Unions Raise Concern Over Schools Reopening

Teachers unions want an inclusive taskforce to assess if schools are ready to reopen.

Giving oral evidence yesterday before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, teachers’ unions said the taskforce should consist of all stakeholders including Government, donors and other interested parties.

The teachers’ unions were invited to give their views on what ought to be done before schools reopen to ensure the safety of pupils, teachers and support staff.

Yesterday’s hearing was part of an ongoing inquiry by the portfolio committee led by Proportionate Representative legislator Ms Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, on the preparedness of schools.

The committee has already heard submissions from the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (ZIMSEC) and Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Tumisang Thabela.

In her evidence last week, Mrs Thabela said schools would be opened in a phased manner starting with those writing examinations.

The Ministry would be engaging all stakeholders, including teachers’ unions.

But in yesterday’s deliberations, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe secretary general, Mr Raymond Majongwe, said there was need for an all stakeholder taskforce to ensure minimum conditions were met.

“It must not just be about students coming to write, it is a process; how are they going to move during the lockdown; both pupils and teachers need to be tested.

“We need to put a critical component of trade unions to address the minimum requirements. The taskforce must include the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, local communities, stakeholders and trade unions to protect the interests of our members, the teachers,” said Mr Majongwe.

He said the taskforce should validate whether minimum requirements have been met, so that pupils were not “railroaded into writing examinations”.

His union was already in contact with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, and remains hopeful that a common understanding would be struck.

“We cannot open schools just because they have to be opened or because there are some people who want to make money,” he said.

Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president, Mr Emmanuel Nyawo, said the taskforce would determine the safety of pupils and teachers before reopening.

“The taskforce is very important. It will enable the nation to know the safety of students and teachers. They will be able to assess the situation on the ground,” said Mr Nyawo.

Zimbabwe Rural Teachers Union vice president, Mr Gibson Mushangu, said there was need for a collective effort to ensure every stakeholder owned the decisions that would have been made.

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