Teachers’ unions have called on government to postpone the November final examinations for Grade 7, Form Four and Upper Sixth — to January, saying pupils whose learning has been severely disrupted by COVID-19 lockdowns will not be ready to be examined.
Pupils have only been in school for one term and were due to go back to learning institutions on July 28, but a raging COVID-19 third wave forced government to postpone indefinitely the reopening of schools.
Pupils also had limited learning in 2020.
This has forced teachers unions to call for the postponement of examinations saying it was not fair for most pupils who had no access to online learning during the pandemic.
“Six weeks after schools were supposed to have reopened, it’s still not clear when they will,” Progressive Teachers Union Zimbabwe (PTUZ) said in a statement.
“We call on Primary and Secondary Education ministry to postpone the examinations to January, at the least,” the PTUZ said.
“These kids learned for only three months since last year, radio and television lessons reach less than 10% of the candidates.”
Government introduced radio and television lessons, but the programme only reached few people due to poor broadcasting reception in some areas, lack of the gadgets as well as electricity challenges.
“It is sad that government has not been forthcoming to support teachers’ initiatives of subject and class WhatsApp learning,” PTUZ said.
“Teachers are prepared to teach pupils and only want government to support them with bundles. Opening of schools is unlikely to happen anytime soon.”
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said teachers were incapacitated to go back to work even if government reopened the schools today.
“The government should urgently convene dialogue and resolve the long-standing salary crisis,” Masaraure said.
The teachers yesterday said they would not relent on their demands for US$520 to US$550 salaries, or their equivalent after government this week opened a new window for talks to break the salary impasse.
Government and its workers have been embroiled in protracted negotiations for a salary increment, with civil servants constantly rejecting the salary hike offers, while demanding payment in United States dollars.
Last month, government increased civil servants’ salaries by 45% to 50%, but teachers and other civil servants said it was not enough.
Zimbabwe National Teachers Union president Manuel Nyawo said teachers were being pauperised.
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said government appears unmoved by the miserable lifestyles of teachers both urban and rural.
“…as it is right now we have a short fall of about US$213 from what we were getting in October 2018 where we were earning about US$540”, Taderera said.