HARARE – Zimbabwe will reopen primary and secondary schools this month for students preparing to sit their final exams, six months after they were closed due to the Covid-19 outbreak, the government said on Tuesday.
The first students to return, on September 14, will be those taking Cambridge International exams. Those taking locally administered final exams will go back two weeks later.
“The ministry (of education) is working closely with other ministries and stakeholders to guarantee the safety of pupils and staff during the examinations period,” the government said.
The education ministry had previously said it would give priority to pupils taking final exams and has hinted that other students will not return to school until 2021.
Teachers’ unions have opposed the plan to push ahead with examinations, warning that pupils are not ready.
“There is apprehension out there because the government is merely concerned about fulfilling the academic year, but the truth is that it was lost,” said ZIMTA president Sifiso Ndlovu said ahead of Tuesday’s announcement.
“The employer must drop this fallacy that learners can sit examinations because they were learning online. That is nonsensical because it didn’t happen on any serious scale.”
Raymond Majongwe, president of the PTUZ, said: “The government must do wide consultations before they make unpopular decisions. They are meeting virtually as a Cabinet, yet they want us to be physically teaching. Why do they want to expose us (to Covid-19)?”
Zimbabwe has recorded about 6,500 cases of Covid-19 and 202 deaths. Despite an increase in infections in the past six weeks, most cases were mild to moderate, with a recovery rate of about 80 percent, the government said.
Authorities are also looking at reopening airports to support the tourism sector, the government said. The plan is to start with the resumption of domestic flights and then to restart international flights, it added, but did not give a date. – Reuters