POLYTECHNICS, teachers’ colleges and industrial training colleges will reopen on October 5 for face to-face learning.
Authorities will be required to strictly adhere to the health guidelines and the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology’s standard operating procedures.
Studies were initially discontinued on March 24 as part of a raft of measures by Government to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Teachers’ colleges, polytechnics and vocational training centres then briefly reopened on July 13 before Government abruptly suspended face-to-face lectures at all tertiary institutions a week after a Chinhoyi University of Technology lecturer tested positive for Covid-19.
On Tuesday, Government announced that all school classes will reopen over the next six weeks in three phases, but with smaller numbers of pupils, more teachers and other health-related measures so that children can resume education without the risk of a spike in Covid-19 infections.
The phased reopening, approved by Cabinet will be done in three stages. Th e three examination classes — Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper Sixth — open on September 28 in phase 1 as was announced several weeks ago. Four weeks later, on October 26, next year’s examination classes — Grade 6, Form 3 and Lower Sixth or Form 5 — open in the second phase and a fortnight aft er that, on November 9, everyone else goes back to school — ECD A and B, Grades 1 to 5 and Forms 1 and 2.
In a letter addressed to principals of tertiary education institutions and copied to the Minister, Professor Amon Murwira among other senior o fficials in the ministry, the Permanent Secretary for Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation Science and Technology, Professor Fanuel Tagwira said all polytechnics, teachers’ colleges and industrial training colleges will reopen on October 5 for face-to-face learning for the second term which ends on December 11.
The third term will run from January 4, 2021 to February 26, 2021.
“Please be advised that all tertiary education institutions will reopen for face-to-face learning on 5 October 2020. The academic calendar will be as follows: second term from 5 October 2020 to 11 December 2020 and then third term will begin on 4 January 2021 to 26 February 2021,” he said.
“In this regard, all principals are advised to adhere to the given guidelines and the standard operating procedures as enshrined in the Ministry’s Roadmap dated 9 June 2020.”
Prof Murwira said the ministry is convinced that it is safe for colleges to reopen for face-to-face learning.
“When we opened for the first time, it coincided with the peak of the infection period and we had to close. As I said, our policy is that if anything goes and data tells us we should close, we close. If data tells us that we open we will open. We are very flexible, it’s a pragmatic policy, we are not dogmatic, we will retreat and re-organise and do it again,” said Prof Murwira.
He said the ministry has procured laptops to capacitate lecturers to teach students both online and face to face.
“We have ordered a lot of laptops for our college lecturers. We hope on the 28th of September our servers would be coming in so that we capacitate our e-learning because we will still do the blended learning,” he said. Prof Murwira said the ministry has also facilitated cheap access to data for students.