ZIMSEC Grade Seven, Ordinary-Level and Advanced Level examinations are progressing well amid indications that 90 percent of teachers have turned up for duty.
The increasing number of teachers reporting for duty is a positive sign as it means that there is enough manpower to thoroughly effect the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for all examination candidates including those that are writing in isolation.
Statistics from the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education indicate that of the 4,5 million learners in the country, only about 300 have contracted Covid-19 since the opening of schools in September.
The ministry has put in place obligatory processes to ascertain the safety of candidates and invigilators during the course of the examinations.
Pupils sitting for examinations who test Covid-19 positive write their exams under special health protocols, that include sitting in isolated exam rooms with strict monitoring by caregivers as guided by Ministry of Health and Child Care and World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
Examination centres are also disinfected before and after candidates complete a certain subject/paper in line with Ministry of Health and Child Care guidelines.
Thermometers, disinfectants, face masks, wash facilities and hand sanitisers have been procured for all examination centres to combat Covid-19.
The Director of communication in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mr Taungana Ndoro said Government was excited that teachers were returning in time for the Zimsec examinations.
“Over 90 percent of teachers have turned up for duty and this is a positive sign in light of the ongoing Zimsec examinations. This means that we have enough manpower to thoroughly effect our SOP’s for all our candidates including those writing in isolation,” he said.
Mr Ndoro said most learners who had tested positive for Covid-19 were recovering well and taking their exams in isolation to mitigate against the spread of the virus.
“We are further pleased that while there may have been worrying concerns about a rise in Covid-19 in our schools, the good thing is that most of our learners are recovering or are on the road to recovery. We are now in a new norm and learning and teaching is taking place in a new norm,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said learners who may have tested positive need not to worry because the ministry has efficient systems in place to respond to their predicament.
“Testing positive and being put in isolation only means that we are protecting other learners as well as protecting the infected learner from deteriorating,” he said.
The ministry, Mr Ndoro said, has guidance and counselling teams at every school to address the psychological impact that testing positive may have on learners.
“Suffice to say, our learners, teachers, parents and guardians need to stay calm and adjust to the new way of doing things in schools. So far, we are very pleased as a ministry we have not had any casualties in schools which goes to show that our SOP’s are being thoroughly being adhered to. The exams are progressing and learners are very enthusiastic to take the exams,” he said.
Zimbabwe Teachers’ Association chief-executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said following the NJNC salary agreement, every teacher should have reported for duty.
He, however, said there were teachers especially those in the rural areas who needed transport assistance just like other civil servants in urban areas.
“We have written to the ministry and to the Public Service Commission raising our concern that there are teachers who are genuinely failing to go to schools especially in rural areas. We asked for the introduction of buses for teachers in rural areas and that matter is with the Ministry and the Public Service Commission because every teacher should be at work,” said Dr Ndlovu.