THAT government has obstinately forced examinations to go on despite genuine protests by teachers’ unions, parents and other stakeholders cannot go unchallenged. That move can also not go without scrutiny.
It is a fact that COVID-19 cases are spiralling in schools across the country, with some schools in particular, John Tallach in Bulawayo, recording close to 200 cases among pupils, throwing a lot of them into isolation. Others such as Sanyati Baptist High School recorded nine, Goromonzi High (55), Waddilove (45) while Chinhoyi have recorded sizeable numbers in new COVID cases.
For parents whose children are at boarding schools this must be the most difficult period as government chooses to ignore pleas to close schools or tighten screws at least, before the situation becomes catastrophic.
What an indictment this is on the part of government. Children at some of these schools have been put on isolation and why they are being kept at the schools even though they are not examination classes only God knows why. Yet it is all clear that government is ill prepared for this task at hand.
It boggles the mind if the students will adequately prepare for the examinations under the circumstances.
This approach to force pupils to avail themselves for examination whatever the circumstance is too simplistic to say the least. For this will not only disenfranchise many pupils, but threaten the quality of education as well as the future of the country.
The fact that in Bulawayo, six Grade 7 pupils wrote their examination from their homes as a result of having contracted COVID-19 clearly shows that more effort by government was required. The fact that the Primary and Secondary Education ministry insists that government is still monitoring the situation does not mean that all is well. We believe precautionary measures needed to be put in place and in particular to open schools to examination classes only.
The psychological trauma that these kids are going through is unbelievable if they are diagnosed COVID-19 positive. Whatever the reason for the government to push for all schools to open is not only dangerous, but reckless, negligent and uncaring.
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What government would do that when the health system in the country is on a stretcher with no medication, and doctors and nurses among other health workers on industrial action?
Besides most pupils did not have the time to prepare for the examinations because of the COVID-19 induced school closures. Schools adopted e-learning, but the approach was not inclusive because of connectivity challenges in some areas and inability to buy the necessary learning tools. The examinations should shape their future yet the government decisions are quite punitive to those with potential but are poor.
One wonders whether President Emmerson Mnangagwa is still a listening President that he branded himself as one when he negates advice that determines the future of millions of majority young people in a way that clearly exposes his uncaring attitude. If it’s not him then he is listening to the wrong and uninformed cabal.
The President clearly needs to renew himself!