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Saving lives is more important than re-opening schools: PTUZ

By Ronnie Chisamba

The Mashonaland East chapter of the Progressive Teachers Union Of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has expressed concern over the government’s plans to re-open the country’s schools in the wake of a sharp increase in confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Addressing parents during a consultative meeting at Mbuya Nehanda Hall in Marondera on Wednesday, Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe’s Mashonaland East Coordinator, Tapiwa Chengeta, said the main priority should be on safeguarding children’s lives.

“After everything is said and done it is the sole duty of the parents and government to prioritise the lives our future: our children,” Chengeta said.

Parents and the Progressive Teachers Of Zimbabwe delegation (including the organization’s Secretary-General, Raymond Majongwe) deliberated on a number of grey areas that need attention before schools can be re-opened. Everyone who was present agreed that the lack of government’s commitment towards channelling of financial resources towards the procurement of PPEs and other basic necessities required in the prevention of COVID-19 in schools was worrying. It was argued that improvisation by schools would endanger the lives of learners.

Parents were also concerned that the current poor remuneration and working conditions of teachers would perturb the fight against COVID-19 in schools.

Media reports of human rights abuse by members of the uniformed forces, allegedly in the guise of maintaining the country’s lockdown regulations, were also discussed as an area of concern. Those in attendance pointed out that opening schools in the current lockdown conditions would endanger the lives of children as they were likely to be caught in the crossfire.

During the meeting it was resolved that the June examinations should be postponed and that the opening of schools be delayed until August after the winter season.

Held in line with government’s stipulated COVID-19 prevention health guidelines, the Marondera consultative meeting is part of PTUZ’s efforts to involve parents – stakeholders in the education sector – in decision making. According to Changeta, resolutions that were made in the meeting will be forwarded to the organization’s national office for submission to the relevant government ministry.

Discovered in China last year Covid-19 has caused havoc, affecting and claiming the lives of millions globally. In Zimbabwe, the confirmed cases are above 500 and the number of reported deaths is 6, while the numbers are set to go up as the disease continues to spread.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende