Schools will open for all classes tomorrow, with the Government giving the greenlight to the alternating approach to learning that will see some pupils attending school for only two days per week to limit numbers as per the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP).
According to the SOP, classes must not have more than 35 pupils and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has given the nod to individual schools to reduce and alternate classes to ensure there is a limited number of pupils per class at a particular time.
As was done last year, this could see some schools allowing pupils to only attend classes two days per week, spend three days learning from home and then rotate in the following week. Responding to questions from Sunday News, director of communications and advocacy in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Mr Taungana Ndoro said alternating and hot sitting classes will depend on each individual school’s capacity.
“This depends on the school, some need to alternate, some don’t. Our SOPs instruct that we have not more than 35 learners per class. But the less the better. As for actual teacher establishment, let’s wait for schools to open and then we assess,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said the Government will this week assess the available teachers at schools so as to come up with the actual teacher establishment and the required personnel in the sector. This year the Government recruited 3 000 teachers in the country and approved 600 lateral transfers to the Harare and Bulawayo Metropolitan provinces.
Among the new recruitments, specialist teachers in the indigenous languages of Shangani, Tonga, Venda and Nambya were also employed as Government moves to affirm its position on the teaching of these languages.
Commenting on the state of affairs in schools as the rest of classes open tomorrow, Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer Dr Sifiso Ndlovu said the alternating classes strategy was the best route to take as it would help protect learners and teachers from the pandemic. He said the Government must ensure adequate availability of Personal Protective Equipment at schools.
“At the present circumstances of Covid-19 alternating classes is the best way to go because we do not have the classroom space to cater for the reduced number of learners per class as guided by the SOPs. What we now need to do for us to complement these alternating classes is to come up with a robust programme of distance learning and cyber learning. The reality is that this pandemic is now with us hence we must come up with means of ensuring the education sector still operates,” said Dr Ndlovu.
Meanwhile, the Government will cascade teacher vaccination to provinces and districts in a bid to have all teachers being inoculated as schools open tomorrow. Vaccination of teachers started in Harare Province last week. This is the second stage of the national vaccination programme against Covid-19 where teachers, the elderly and people with underlying conditions are to get vaccinated. Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said every teacher in the country was going to get a jab.
“Our programmes have started here in Harare, but we are moving down to other provinces in the country and districts too. Harare was just a central point where we started and we will take it from there, moving outside the province,” he said.
Dr Mangwiro said the vaccination programme was going to pick up pace as more sectors were being included in the initiative.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary general Reverend Dr Kenneth Mtata said the church was rallying behind the vaccination programme.
“The last few weeks we have been consulting with church leaders and with medical professionals for us to have a deeper understanding of the vaccine and all the challenges and risks associated with it. We have concluded that this vaccine could be useful in protecting people from the Covid-19 virus therefore we are encouraging people to get vaccinated. I have been vaccinated myself and I am calling upon all our clergy and church leaders to get vaccinated,” he said.
Rev Dr Mtata said arrangements are being made to ensure church leaders are vaccinated in convenient places and times. Treasury has set aside US$100 million for the procurement of vaccines that will see 10 million of the population being inoculated in order to achieve herd immunity. -Sunday News