Schools reopening: Govt avails $600m

By ZBC Reporter

THE Government has set aside $600 million for disbursement to needy schools to improve sanitation and enable them to reopen safely without risking a spike in Covid-19 infections.

This is part of a raft of measures, informed by World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines, that authorities have put in place ahead of the reopening of public examination classes on September 28.

The money is targeted for allocation to schools in all the provinces, with priority being given to those with less capacity to ensure the safety of schoolchildren and staff.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Ambassador Cain Mathema yesterday said the Government held a meeting with representatives of church-owned schools to ensure they were also in the game ahead of the resumption of classes.

Churches own a number of schools in the country and are key stakeholders in the education sector.

Those writing Cambridge examinations this year resumed classes this Monday, while those writing Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) exams are expected to resume classes on September 28.

Representatives of church-owned schools told Minister Mathema that they were ready for the resumption of classes under WHO recommended guidelines to ensure the safety of students, teachers, supporting staff and other stakeholders.

Giving an insight of his meeting with representatives of church-owned schools, Minister Mathema said: “The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development availed $600 million for schools to re-open safely, and there have been issues of water shortages in schools. We are using that money to drill boreholes and in some instances provide water bowsers to make sure that water is available at all the schools. The money will also be used to buy things like PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), thermometers, sanitisers.

“We are working with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Water and Rural Resettlement, and Zinwa (Zimbabwe National Water Authority) to ensure the availability of water at all the schools. I met representatives of church-owned schools, they declared readiness to open the schools and they are happy the measures put in place can be met. We need to work together as a team to ensure that the environment is safe and conducive for schools reopening, we have been working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care, listening to WHO guidelines to open in a safe environment.”

The minister said June exams were conducted successfully without any problems and the Government expected a similar outcome in the second round of public exams scheduled for December.

In keeping with social distancing rules, classes would be broken into smaller groups handled by additional teachers already employed at schools, while examinations would be taken from more classrooms and spacious halls to minimise chances of spreading the virus.