Education set for national consultations

… as schooling calendar hangs in the balance

By Tracy Tafirenyika

THE Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture (MOE) will soon embark on nationwide consultations with different educational directorates to ascertain the state of preparedness and ramp up chances of schools reopening after the August sabbatical.

Confidente understands that several parents have expressed unwillingness to send their children back to school as Covid-19 cases continue to rise.

Speaking to Confidente, MOE executive director Sanet Steenkamp said that between August 17 and 21 the ministry will be holding consultative meetings in every region where regional directors will engage key stakeholders to assess the situation and find lasting solutions amid Covid-19.

“The decision on whether the schools will reopen or not is not that of the ministry as we will only gather all the evidence then submit to Cabinet where after Cabinet deliberates on the issues, and then announces the way forward.

“There will be consultations taking place in the regions where the unions will also be included and it is a planning process. Whatever the outcome will be, it will inform us accordingly on how we will move forward for the rest of the year and also what is in the pipeline for 2021,” she said.

Steenkamp further explained that her ministry is fully aware of the negative consequences if schools remain closed saying that they stand guided by the Ministry of Health in deciding if it is safe or not for the learners to revert back to school.

“The Ministry of Health has a key role to play and we are also guided by the World Health Organisation (WHO). If we find out that it is safe for schools to open they will guide us as such, so it is always very close consultation …  even the deliberations of Cabinet are also guided by the Ministry of Health. Yes it’s a time for a lot of anxiety but let’s still realise that we just need to do the right thing,” Steenkamp elaborated.

Following a Covid-19 announcement made by President Hage Geingob on July 31 that lower grades should stop attending school, Education minister Anna Nghipondoka emphasised that face to face learning for pre-primary, and Grades 1 to 9 was suspended.

“We must keep in mind that this one month suspension of face to face is not to be regarded as a school holiday or a total school closure. During this period the ministry will continue to strengthen the initiatives geared towards school preparedness.

Teachers must continue reporting to school and put all mechanisms in place to facilitate Learning from Home (LFH) through providing continuous assessment tasks for promotional purposes.

“We do acknowledge every school’s unique context and urge teachers, school management and communities to work together addressing the challenging aspects encountered during these trying times. It is every educator’s responsibility to remain a beacon of light and hope for our learners. Parents are encouraged to minimise the movement of their children to equally minimise the risk of the virus spreading,” Nghipondoka said.