THE President will announce dates for the reopening of schools, but will do so when the conditions are safe for learners and teachers to prevent exposure to coronavirus, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema has said.
He was speaking at the launch of the Schools Covid-19 Response Programme at Chikangwe High School in Karoi yesterday.
“The safety of our learners always comes prior to any action regarding Covid-19 disease. The President will only proclaim the dates when schools open and he will only do so after evidence that shows it is prudent to do so has been availed,” said Minister Mathema.
The scourge, he said, required everyone’s participation and applauded schools in Mashonaland West Province for making personal protective equipment (PPEs) and sanitisers.
“I have toured eight schools that exhibited here and have the capacity to produce as factories. The efforts by these schools producing PPEs is an indication that the national health and education goals in the Vision 2030 are going to be met,” the Minister said.
He said the production of sanitisers and PPEs by many institutions would result in low prices after some firms started charging exorbitant prices, taking advantage of huge demand.
Minister Mathema challenged Chikangwe High School to think outside the box and eye international markets.
He implored the private sector to team up with the schools and ramp up production to promote economic and social development in communities around schools.
Mashonaland West Provincial Affairs Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka spelt the need for schools to produce PPEs and sanitisers beyond Covid-19.
“The schools that are producing face masks and sanitisers should go beyond Covid-19 and meet other needs and requirements of this era and others to come.
“Covid-19 has brought the best out of the schools in the province and nation at large and thus, schools should be productive units in the future as well.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer, Dr Sifiso Ndlovu, said they provided $10 000 to Chikangwe High School to start the production of about 3 500 masks.
Ehlekweni Vocational Institute, registered in Zimta’s name, would produce 60 000 face masks by July this year.
Hurungwe Central MP, Cde Dought Ndiweni urged universities to leave facemasks and sanitiser production to schools and focus on treating and testing Covid-19 related cases.
Others schools producing sanitisers are Moleli High, Sandringham High, Pen Academy and Kutama College.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education, Mrs Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, recently told The Herald that it was crucial for schools to reopen when it was safe for pupils and teachers.
She proposed e-learning be tailored for children to benefit.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) recently wrote to Government calling for a delay in the reopening of schools.
PTUZ secretary-general Mr Raymond Majongwe said the reopening schools early could put learners, teachers and stakeholders at risk and proposed mid-July for the resumption of classes.