Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema on Wednesday told Parliament that schools will reopen once President Emmerson Mnangagwa gives the directive.
He said this during a question and answer session in the National Assembly adding that he would soon issue a ministerial statement in the House on the country’s preparedness for resumption of lessons. Said Mathema:
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Once we are given the directive by His Excellency, we will open schools.
MPs had grilled Mathema over measures that his ministry was taking to ensure the safety of schoolchildren and teachers before the opening of schools.
Mathema stated that preparations for the opening of schools were ongoing and Government would draw lessons from past experiences to ensure the safety of learners in the institutions. He said:
We have had this pandemic since last year and within the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, we have done all we could, and we are doing all we can to make sure we protect the children.
The ministry will do whatever is required to make sure that children are protected and everybody is protected…
We will also learn from other countries, but we want to assure the nation that we will do everything in our power to ensure the children’s safety.
When the time comes, we will go out of our way to make sure that schools are open and children will be protected. We will manage this as we have done in the past.
On exemption letters for children learning at private institutions, Mathema said they would be issued. He said:
If there is any need, we will issue those exemption letters depending on what is on the ground.
Schools were supposed to have opened on 28 June but owing to the surge in coronavirus infections, the opening was initially deferred for two weeks, then another two weeks on 12 July and now deferred again.
Meanwhile, teachers’ unions have demanded that Finance minister Mthuli Ncube writes off second term fees as incomes of a majority of people, including teachers, have been hit by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and recurrent lockdowns.