Harare - Zimbabwean learners are back in class after six months of new coronavirus-induced inactivity.
Those sitting for their ordinary and advanced level Cambridge examinations returned to class on September 14, while those writing the locally-administered Zimsec exams will follow on September 28.
The country has stuck to a cautious phased reopening, with Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Thumisang Thabela saying the priority remained examination classes.
In July, South Africa reopened schools only to almost immediately close them again as cases of COVID-19 infection spiked.
It’s a lesson Zimbabwean authorities are drawing from in their phased reopening.
The country used the June public exams as a litmus test.
Cain Mathema, the country`s Primary and Secondary Education Minister, said not one of the 12,000 learners who sat for those exams contracted COVID-19.
The decision to reopen has - naturally - not been without resistance.
Technical Education lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, Dr Peter Kwaira, reckons that all the ducks are simply not yet in a row.
“I would further suggest that we concede that 2020 is a lost year. The teaching environment needs to be safe, peaceful for both teacher and learner, and in the context of COVID-19, it will not be possible for this to happen, especially knowing that a spike in cases may force another closure, it is unfair on learners” Dr Kwaira said.
Kenya forfeited the 2020 academic year and has instead focused on preparing for a safe reopening.
Progressive TeachersUnion of Zimbabwe president Dr Takavafira Zhou insists the state should “test every child and staff member before we even think of reopening. That way we will have an idea of whether or not it is safe to reopen”.
Zimbabwe has 4,2 million children of school-going age and testing them would cost anything above US$60 million.