Parliamentary Portfolio Committee Report on Schools Opening in Light of COVID-19 Pandemic

This report by the Portfolio Committee on Primary and Secondary Education was presented to the Natiional Assembly on Thursday 4th June 2020 by committee chairperson Hon Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga.  The concluding paragraphs of the report are:

9.0 Committee Recommendations
9.1 Comprehensive school opening should only be done when the Government meets all the basic requirements stipulated by the WHO guidelines such as access to clean and safe water at each school, distribution of PPE to all teachers and learners and ensuring social distancing in classrooms, among others.
9.2 Treasury should therefore prioritise the release of $3 605 613 146.00 immediately required by the Ministry to enable it to effectively plan for the physical opening of schools, beginning with Phase 1.
9.3 In the meantime, the Government should expedite the facilitation of radio and television programming and online learning by creating the enabling environment by end of June 2020. The Committee is suggesting that the Ministry collaborates with the Ministry of ICT in licencing companies that can provide online learning at affordable prices while the Governments earns revenue from that to ensure safe eLearning.
9.4 June Examinations should be postponed to summer (September/October) of 2020 to give the candidates ample time to prepare academically, psychologically and emotionally.
9.5 There should be uniformity in enforcement of opening all schools, regardless of whether it is private, public or trust schools. No school shall be given special treatment during this era.
9.6 The Ministry should relax the requirement for accreditation of schools to be examination centres to ensure that they are easily accessible to the candidates. The Committee is proposing that the Ministry considers adopting the Zimbabwe Election Commission (ZEC) Framework in running examinations using some of the polling stations as examination centres.
9.7 The recruitment of teachers should be prioritised as a strategy to ensure that the teacher pupil ratio in the classroom of 1:20 is achieved.

10.0 Conclusion
In a nutshell, the COVID-19 pandemic demands that the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education should think outside the box. Opening of schools should only progress after the Government meets all the basic requirements stipulated by the WHO guidelines including providing adequate PPE for both pupils and teachers among others.


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