Anxiety as schools open for June exams

Back to school scramble as students load their luggage on buses yesterday at the Bulawayo City Hall car park ahead of the 2019 first school term opening today

PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government is reportedly ill-equipped to smoothly run the June examinations as the Education ministry has not deployed equipment to combat the spread of COVID-19.


Government has already given the greenlight to have June examinations proceed, with pupils in boarding schools already returning to schools.

But it has emerged that the schools are not equipped with infra-red thermometers for screening students, with some district education officers extending a begging bowl to stakeholders and well-wishers for donations of the thermometers.

The Bulilima district education office has appealed for assistance as there was dire need of thermometers. The office covers Insiza, Beitbridge, Matobo, Umzingwane, Gwanda and Mangwe.

Primary and Secondary Education minister Cain Mathema could not be reached for comment as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Bulilima district education inspector (DSI) Evelyn Ncube in a memo to stakeholders seen by NewsDay yesterday, painted a gloomy picture of the schools’ state of preparedness to contain the deadly virus.

“Students start writing June 2020 examinations on June 30, 2020. The district is in dire need of infra-red thermometers for screening students at schools. The Primary and Secondary Education ministry is appealing for assistance. Please, anyone able to assist, contact DSI (on) 0775752266,” Ncube pleaded in her memo dated June 26.

The situation, which has come at a time teachers are plotting to boycott invigilating the June exams over poor salaries and lack of protective clothing and equipment at schools, is reportedly the same countrywide.

About 10 000 teachers are required to invigilate the June examinations.

Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Takavafira Zhou said the issue of invigilating June examinations was before the courts, where both the Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) and the Primary and Secondary Education ministry had promised to put testing kits, thermometers, sanitisers, personal protective equipment in schools by June 26.

“They also promised that they would have cleaned and disinfected schools currently used as quarantine centres by then. Surprisingly, the ministry and Zimsec have been belting and bellowing instructions to school heads to scavenge for COVID-19 abatement requirements at a zero budget, an impossible feat indeed,” Zhou said.

He also urged teachers to wait for official communication from unions as the matter was still before the court.

Both “O” and “A” Level examinations will start tomorrow despite leaners having last been in school on March 24, 2020.

Parents and guardians yesterday expressed concern over the opening of boarding schools for pupils who are writing June examinations at a time COVID-19 cases are on the rise in the country.

Yesterday, some parents accompanied their children back to school for the June examinations.

Parents said they were left with no choice, but to send their children back to school since they were supposed to write June examinations despite the risk of possible COVID-19 infections.

Nqobani Ndlovu, a South Africa-based parent, said.

“It’s a tough situation. One way or the other, children have to write examinations. Personally, I would have opted that children write their exams next year. I’m worried also about the set-up of infrastructure at schools, including maintaining social distance and sanitisation,” he said.

Another parent, Moses Kumbeya, said parents were taking their children to school out of their good will as they had no choice.

“The schools also required us to provide masks and sanitisers for our children, but that is not enough. The situation is worrying,” he said.