By Zwelihle Sukati | 2020-06-06
It’s back to school for Form Five next month. Government announced yesterday that the opening of schools will start with Form Five as of July 1.
This class will be followed by Grade 7 and Form III, two weeks later, on the 15th.
The re-opening of schools was announced by Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini yesterday.
“It has further pleased His Majesty’s Government to embark on a phased approach towards the re-opening of schools and tertiary institutions,” the premier announced.
“The intention is to re-open effectively on the 1st July 2020, starting with Form 5 and completing classes at tertiary level.”
He reminded the nation that the closure of schools effected on March 17, 2020 was an effort at national level to contain the rapid spread of the virus.
“However, evidence shows that the prolonged closure of schools and tertiary institutions will have significant negative socio-economic effects and it cannot continue endlessly.”
The head of government said for the objectives of the 2020 academic year to be achieved, there was a need to allow the current Form Five learners to progress to tertiary level.
“To do so they need to sit for their examinations and complete their end of school cycle,” he stated.
In preparation for the re-opening of schools and tertiary institutions, he said personnel would be trained on COVID-19 prevention and control, and on ways of adapting to the ‘new normal’ while ensuring that teaching and learning continue.
Dlamini said government had developed a checklist for assessing school’s readiness, adding that this checklist, would be administered by regional education officers.
“The process of reopening schools will only succeed with the necessary cooperation and collaboration from parents, transport sector, school committees, teachers and all stakeholders.”
In the meantime, he said, the home schooling strategy implemented by the ministry of education and training through the national radio channels, television and print media would continue. “It prioritises the completing classes for the three school levels (Grade Seven, Form Three and Form Five) as an intervention to ensure that learning continues whilst learners are at home,” he pointed out.
The prime minister thanked all teachers committed to teaching in the home schooling programme for their dedication in ensuring that learning continues during the closure of schools. “We would also like to convey our sincere appreciation to the media and partners for the support rendered during this period,” he said and encouraged teachers and pupils to work hard, as they normally do, to cover the lost time when schools re-open.
Nothing shows schools ready for re-opening, yet – SNAT
There is nothing visible to show that schools are ready to re-open at any time soon –at least by yesterday when the head of government made the announcement.
This is the view held by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT) Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini.
He said maybe progress was yet to be seen moving forward after the announcement that classes will resume with Form Five.
Dlamini declared that the organisation was part and parcel of the task team.
“Every week we will be providing statements on the level of preparedness in what government was doing,” Dlamini said.
“Maybe government has a plan on how the conditions would have been met by July, but we will be updating our members on what next has been achieved and where there was need to be fixed.”
‘We still stand by our 15 demands for re-opening of schools’
The 15 demands made by teachers as set conditions for the re-opening of schools are none -negotiable.
SNAT Secretary General Sikelela Dlamini said the organisation believed they were on the same page with government on that regard.
“Government sounded to be in support of the demands and therefore, we hope we will have all the conditions met,” Dlamini said.
Dlamini said some of the demands call for more teachers to be hired, more classrooms and or the introduction of shift learning system.
Some of the 15 demands by SNAT:
All the 970 schools (primary and secondary) and the 30 tertiary institutions (both private and public) must be extensively disinfected.
This should apply to both urban and rural schools.
A team of health professionals must move around the country to inspect the different conditions in the various schools and tertiary institutions to determine the level of sanitation in these institutions.
Massive testing should also be rolled out, over and above the temperature screening process, as it were. In each school, there should be a site nurse with a kit that will enable the health professional to conduct temperature scans for teachers, learners, members of the support staff and everyone entering each school as an open system on a daily basis.
The transportation of learners on a daily basis needs to be in full conformity with the social distancing regulations. All learners must be provided with reusable facemasks.
The marking of class work and sharing of books must be discontinued. Learners must mark their own exercise books under the teacher’s guidance. No learner or teacher is to be allowed to touch exercise books. Tests are to be written on fly papers that will be destroyed by the teacher after marking and recording of scores.
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