Nqobile Tshili/Patrick Chitumba, Chronicle Reporters
A SMOOTH return to school next Monday has been assured as teachers have said they are ready to report for duty following Government’s announcement of the 2022 schools’ calendar with a short first term of 45 days.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education yesterday released the new schools’ calendar after the initial one was disrupted by a spike in Covid-19 cases resulting in schools opening being deffered.
Last Friday, acting President Dr Constantino Chiwenga announced that schools should reopen next Monday, as Government relaxed Covid-19 lockdown measures.
Schools will open for 45 days during the first term of the year before learning institutions take a 26-day break.
The second term will commence on May 3 ending on Thursday August 4 and will have 69 days and pupils will take a 30-day break before proceeding to the third term.
The third term will start on Monday September 5 ending on Thursday December 8 and the term will be the longest with 71 days.
The schools will open on Monday January 9 for the 2023 calendar.
Primary and Secondary Education Ministry director of communication and advocacy Mr Taungana Ndoro yesterday said the public should take note of the new calendar and start making preparations.
Mr Ndoro said while the first term is shorter, this has become a new normal due to Covid-19-induced disruptions.
“Learners have adjusted to the new reality and have been learning even when schools were closed. The calendar just shows that we are going to have face-to-face lessons, but when schools are closed it does not mean that there is no learning that is taking place at all. Even during vacation days, learning still takes place.
Education cannot wait because of Covid-19 which we started experiencing since March 2020. We have a lot of catching up to do. We have a lot of work that is before us. Let us not lose sight of where we want to go,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said if there are no further disruptions, pupils will catch up.
Mr Ndoro said opening dates for Form One pupils will still be determined by announcement of Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) results.
“We expect them to announce the Grade Seven results soon. I can’t give an exact date because as a parastatal, Zimsec will be working on a number of modalities. We cannot conclude with certainty that the Form One pupils will not open next week until we get to Monday the 7th.
Today is just the 1st of February, if something happens between now and Monday we might have to adjust and see how we accommodate Form One pupils,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said the ministry was assessing the readiness of schools ahead of next week’s opening. “As we speak the schools are ready to open for the first term on February 7 and that is why the Government made that announcement last week.
However, to ensure smooth opening, as a ministry we are going to start monitoring individual schools from tomorrow (today) to ensure that every school is on the same wavelength with others in terms of readiness to open,” he said.
Mr Ndoro said all schools are expected to adhere to the Ministry’s Standard Operation Procedures (SOPS) to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in learning institutions.
He said the prevention measures have proved to be effective as the ministry was able to detect and handle infections recorded in schools.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Teachers Association president Mr Richard Gundani said teachers are ready to resume their duties and urged Government to continue improving their welfare.
“As Zimta, the largest body representing teachers, we are ready to go to school next week. The will is there and we are sure that the employer is looking at ways and means to improve our welfare,” said Mr Gundani.
Government has since assured civil servants that their welfare is going to improve this year.
Salary negotiations are ongoing under the National Joint Negotiating Committee (NJNC) which brings under one roof Government and civil servants umbrella body, Apex Council.
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Minister Professor Paul Mavima said Government is always prepared to address civil servants’ concerns.
“The Second Republic remains committed to improving the working conditions of its workers and it has been reviewing their conditions of service time and again. Unfortunately, every time there is an increment for civil servants, the price of goods and services go up. But the Government is working on addressing that,” said Prof Mavima.
Some of the measures that the Government has undertaken to cushion employees is to pay their monthly Covid-19 risk allowance in foreign currency with the first payment being made last month.
Pensioners are also receiving their US$30 in forex.
In December, Government paid employees bonuses in foreign currency as part of the measures to cushion them from the inflationary environment.
Employees have lobbied Government to pay salaries in foreign currency. – @nqotshili
Article Source: The Chronicle