17 April 2020
The Provincial Education Director for Mashonaland west Province Mr G.Mhumha has issued a memo dated 20 April 2020 concerning the Covid 19 pandemic, specifically looking at how schools in the province should respond. It is the 4th version of the circular.
It is commendable to see leaders in the education sector taking steps and encouraging their subordinates to take necessary prevention measures. It shows an insight into the future of the education of our beloved and most precious resource- children.
However, some sections of the PED memo needs clarification. Some of those areas noted are;
- The issue of continuous learning where the PED said learners should be engaged through whatsap, audio and vedio lessons and other interactive platforms on Google. The bigger question now is, who will provide the funds for the teachers to engage learners in such a manner.
It should be noted that, without proper funding for the teachers, it is not possible to have such lessons through Google. Teachers need data and should not use their own money.
The PED should note that in Mashonaland west, there are schools in Zvimba district( Dzingwe sec, Shambavarungu primary), Makonde district(Sakobvo primary), Makonde district (Kamhonde schools) just to name a few, which are in areas where there is poor or no internet connectivity. What will happen to learner in those areas?
Parents of those remotely located learners consider having a smartphone a luxury. Not because it is a luxury but because they are struggling to put food on the table during this lockdown.
Surely learners from those areas will be disadvantaged, and it will be unfair to leave them out.
- On state of preparedness for the opening of schools the PED suggested that schools adopt hot sitting. There is something not clear here, imagine a teacher at a rural secondary with no hot sitting but have a weekly work load of 35 lessons. This will mean the teachers work load will double to 70 if hot sitting is introduced. The teacher will teach, say half of the class from 7am to 12pm, amd the other half from 12pm to 5pm.
This will he the case because it should be never expected that the government will employ more teachers.
The welfare of the same teacher need to be considered. How can a single teacher teach both morning and afternoon sessions, it is impossible.
Another shocking issue is to force locked up parents in the lockdown to pay school fees. Even if they are first term areas, this is not the right time to demand them. We begin to wonder if it is genuine or someone want those BSPZ subscriptions. Parents with areas will be asked to pay at the proper time. For now the government must make priority to cushion citizens.
As ARTUZ, we are always on record telling the responsible authorities to invest in education sector. Some of the challenges we are facing now in the education sector are a result of negligence and unwillingness of authorities to improve acres to quality education.
ARTUZ Mashonaland west province demand the PED to consider access to quality education by all learners before implementing any measures. It is true the Covid 19 pandemic has affected all learners, but action to be taken should not be discriminatory.
Oliver Chipfuwamiti* ARTUZ Mashonaland West Provincial Spokesperson