Zimbabwe: Trade unions win court battle on school re-opening

Zimbabwe education unions opposed school reopening as proposed by the Government. Their principal arguments were that the reopening of schools was dangerous because:
  • The teacher-pupil ratio was too high to make social distancing possible with existing school facilities and arrangements. The official figure for the ratio is 1 to 40, however the unions argue that the real ratio is often 1 to 70 or even 1 to 100. This was already a serous education issue well before the pandemic made it a major health risk. 
  • Adequate and safe transport for students and teachers was not available, which added additional distancing and sanitation dangers before and after school hours. 
  • There was a lack of logistical preparedness. School facilities required fumigation and other sanitation measures on a massive scale. Contributing to that danger was the fact that many schools, colleges and universities had been used as quarantine centres. Inadequate supplies of hand sanitisers and face masks and insufficient personnel made schools dangerous as well. Many schools, particularly those in rural areas, were without clean running water or regular supplies of it. 
 
Trade unions argued that many parents, students, and teachers were anxious and fearful over re-opening under those conditions as schools could become hotspots and make infection rates shoot up. In neighbouring South Africa, some schools that have been opened have had to be closed again as infections have surged. 
 
The decision of the High Court of Zimbabwe, announced 19 June, was that before reopening, the Government must provide personal protective equipment for teachers and learners, clean and sanitise all facilities and follow safety practices as prescribed by the World Health Organisation, as well as providing for testing and adequate sanitation facilities.
 
The Government responded that it will meet all of the conditions of the High Court as well as its deadlines and promised to allocate significant resources for that purpose. 
 

[Mon, 29 Jun 2020 17:28:00 +0200] | DIGG THIS

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