Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) has raised concerns regarding the reopening of tertiary institutions for end of semester examinations urging Government to ensure that the institutions adhere to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on prevention of the spread of Covid-19.
This comes after the government has permitted state universities to reopen on June 1, with only final year students allowed back on campus while the rest will continue using e-learning platforms.
In a statement, ZINASU secretary-general Tapiwanashe Chiriga said they are concerned about the random way of the resumption of lectures.
“We are conscious to and all challenges posed and caused by Covid-19 to the traditional modes of learning particularly contact learning. It is, however, the haphazard, exclusionary, and costly ways to such a return that are of serious and grave concern to us,” said Chiriga.
Due to shortage of quarantine centres in Zimbabwe, the government has been using some schools as quarantine facilities for returning citizens.
ZINASU called on the government to first disinfect learning institutions which were used as quarantine centres.
“We demand that institutions that have been used as quarantine and isolation centres be thoroughly disinfected. There must be adequate rapid test kits. Government and institutions must provide facemasks and sanitizers for staff and students.
“There must be clear cut plans on how business will be conducted in line with social distancing requirements. Travelling to respective institutions must be guided and led by the state to minimize the risk of infection in transit,” said Chiriga.
Chiriga added that some students were excluded during the online learning phase in the past weeks due to failure to meet data costs.
“The majority of the students cannot afford the exorbitant data charges. The past weeks have been a testimony to this cruel fact. Many students have been left out in attempt to continue with online learning,” he said.
“End of semester examinations should not be a rushed formality but a proper process lest the majority of students be unfairly condemned to failure. The right to accessible and affordable education even in a pandemic should be sacrosanct. Learning in all and any of the forms in may take, should be openly accessible and affordable to all students regardless of financial status.”
Meanwhile, teachers unions are on record saying is a need to ensure that coronavirus is brought under control before the opening of schools.
They also recommended that the Government should ensure through the line ministries that every pupil has at least three washable masks and fumigate all schools before they open.