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MPs grill Ziyambi why re-open schools for only 9 days this term

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  • ... with Good Friday set for 2 April and Independence Day coming on 18 April, there is a possibility that learners who go back to school on 22 March will finding themselves closing for the term after only nine days in class.

By Nompumelelo Sibanda

PARLIAMENT yesterday heard that there is a possibility this year’s school first term, which opens on 22 March for the majority of learners, may be just nine days long, but Justice Minister Ziyambi  insisted that “let us just open schools”.

Schools closed in mid-December after having opened in late October, as national lockdowns against the spread of COVID-19 impeded with normal learning activities.

Government announced this Tuesday that examination classes – Grade 7, Form 4 and Upper 6th – reopen schools on 15 March. The rest of the classes follow suit on 22 March.

However, with Good Friday set for 2 April and Independence Day coming on 18 April, there is a possibility that learners who go back to school on 22 March will finding themselves closing for the term after only nine days in class.

Speaking in Parliament, Zanu-PF MP Goodluck Kwaramba (Mashonaland West, PR) asked the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education to explain why some pupils have to travel across the country to boarding schools for only nine days of learning.

“I notice that schools will be opened on the 22nd March but looking at the calendar, you will find that on 2nd April it will be Good Friday. This means that school children will have attended school maybe just for nine days,” said Ms Kwaramba.

“My worry is – what is the implication to parents who would have sent their children to school on the 22nd March and then go back to collect them for Easter?”

Standing in for the Minister Cain Mathema who was not in Parliament yesterday, leader of Government business in Parliament, Ziyambi, acknowledged that the schools closing date was not yet fixed but schools must just open anyhow even though “it might constrain parents”.

“The Ministry is working on a calendar but the policy is; let us now open schools,” said Ziyambi. “They will come up with a proper calendar and I am sure we can engage them and that can also be taken into consideration.”

MDC-T MP and chairperson of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga said Government should ensure that when the school calendar is out, parents pay fees on a pro rata basis.

She said parents were being shortchanged by paying a whole term’s school fees for only a few weeks of learning, as happened last term.

“When the school calendar is out, will it deal with the issue of school fees because as we speak, parents are being asked to pay school fees for the whole term? 

“What is the Ministry going to do in relation to the issues of paying school fees outside the school calendar?” asked Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

“At the moment we do not have the school calendar and we are generally having parents being asked to pay school fees across the board, so what is the policy issue in this instance?”

Other Members of Parliament accused Ziyambi of “just responding on the surface” as he insisted that all issues to deal with school fees and school calendar would be addressed at a later date. – Zimbabwe Voice 🔺

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