PUBLIC transporter, Zupco is working with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to provide exclusive buses that will be used by teachers and pupils when schools open next week.
Last week, the Government announced that schools will open on 14 September for Cambridge Examination classes and on 28 September 2020 for Zimsec Examination classes. These include Upper Six, Form Four and Grade Seven classes and Zimsec examinations will start on 1 December.
However, there has been concern over how learners and teachers, especially in urban centres, will be transported to schools after Government banned private commuter omnibuses from operating in March after the country imposed a national lockdown to deal with Covid-19. Only Zupco is allowed to operate while private players have to join the Zupco franchise first before operating.
Nonetheless, Zupco and the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education yesterday confirmed that an agreement has been reached to ensure that pupils and teachers will safely be transported once schools open. Zupco chief executive officer Mr Everisto Madangwa told Sunday News that the company has already put a special arrangement for the education sector.
“We are readying ourselves for the re-opening of schools so that come schools opening our fleet will be ready to transport them to and from school. We will actually have a special arrangement reserved for all the students and teachers,” said Mr Madangwa.
Primary and Secondary Education Deputy Minister Cde Edgar Moyo said the transport sector was key in ensuring the smooth re-opening of schools.
“Our aim is that we create a smooth way for the learners, teachers and ancillary staff from their homes to school and back to their home. We do not want a situation that this becomes a leeway for the spiking of Covid-19 cases by exposing them hence we are working at an inter-Ministerial level to ensure that the necessary logistical arrangements are put in place especially regarding the issue of transport. We had the same special arrangement when we had the June exams, so we will continue from that this time around, it will be more of a special arrangement because we want these examinations to be held without any notable hiccup,” said Deputy Minister Moyo.
Meanwhile, Deputy Minister Moyo warned schools from diverting from the set policy by unilaterally increasing fees for learners but instead follow the proper channels of submitting their proposed charges to the Ministry for approval.
“Nothing has really changed in terms of the school fees policy, no school can just decide to change what they charge the learners, this should go through the Ministry. Those that are not instituting any changes they can just go ahead and open, however, those that want to escalate they must send their proposals through the Ministry, besides looking at the time we have till we open classes, I believe they should have already started sending the submissions to our offices,” he said.
Responding to questions from Sunday News director of communications and advocacy in the Ministry, Mr Taungana Ndoro reiterated that the examination classes will have to pay school fees that have been approved by the Ministry. He further revealed that everything was on course for the re-opening of schools for examination classes, noting that the Government has availed $315 million for PPEs for Government, local and not-for-profit mission schools.
“Everything is now in place and I can confidently say that this year’s final examinations will be held and completed this year. As for other classes they will only re-open when it is safe to do so in light of the trends of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Mr Ndoro.
He said schools should also be guided by the Education Sector’s Standard operation procedure for the prevention and management of Covid-19, which states the measures to be adopted to limit the exposure to the disease and reduce the probability of its transmission.
Schools were closed in March before the country went into lockdown that started on 30 March to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. Efforts to re-open the learning centres have been hampered by the continued increase in cases of Covid-19. On Friday, the country recorded 159 new cases, with one case imported from Botswana. The country had recorded 6837 Covid-19 positive cases, 5345 recoveries and 206 deaths. Sunday News