All primary schools are ready to hold in a safe environment the Zimsec Grade 7 examinations that start today.
Special efforts were made by the schools and Government to put in place acceptable measures, informed by World Health Organisation guidelines, to ensure public examinations were held in a manner that did not risk the safety of either learners or teachers.
Yesterday, school heads said they were not expecting any major challenges with the handling of public examinations following the protocols put in place and the support they were getting from the Ministry of Health and Child Care. National Association of Primary Heads (NAPH) president Mrs Cynthia Khumalo said it was all systems go for the Grade 7 examinations.
In keeping with social distancing rules, more classrooms and spacious halls would be used to space out the pupils writing the examination.
“Everything is set for the holding of the public examinations starting tomorrow (today).
“It is not the first time we are holding public examinations under these conditions,” said Mrs Khumalo referring to the same examinations late last year.
“We are now better prepared because of the experience we had last year and remember last year there were no incidents and exams were held in a safe manner.
“We are also holding end of year local examinations for our schools, so at times classes will be alternating, such that when we have a public exam in the morning local ones will be written in the afternoon.”
“Many people are talking of the new Covid-19 variant saying it is risky for these exams to go on.
“We are not worried because we have measures to control the spread of any variant.”
Schools have been working with the Ministry of Health and Child Care which assisted in the implementation of Covid-19 guidelines to ensure a safe environment for all involved and Health Ministry officers gave technical expertise when they visited schools.
The health visits were at regular intervals to check on things such as fumigation.
“All the schools were attached to a certain health centre which attends to them whenever there are cases which need assistance.
“I am happy to say our health counterparts have been prompt and efficient to attend to our concerns.
“It is the same thing with boarding schools. There will not be any congestion in boarding facilities when taking exams,” said Mrs Khumalo.
Some parents who spoke to The Herald said they were happy their children would write public examinations in a safe environment.
“We are happy our children will be writing exams. We are confident the environment is safe since this is not the first time Zimbabwe is holding exams in a Covid-19 situation,” said Mrs Barbara Manjoro.
“I think the environment is safe. We have not heard of an outbreak in schools for a while now and I think it is an appropriate time to write exams,” said Mr Donald Gumbo.
Speaking after last week’s Cabinet meeting, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said collaboration between the education and health sectors resulted in a safe and successful 2020 public examination process, and Government was expecting the same this year. Health and Child Care Deputy Minister Dr John Mangwiro said it was important to follow scientific advice not only in schools, but also in communities to avoid the fourth wave of infections being witnessed in other countries.
He said for now, the advice was to get vaccinated through the national programme funded by Treasury and to continue adhering to the prescribed containment measures. So far no vaccines have been cleared for children as young as Grade 7 pupils although work continues around the world on building up the necessary data and other studies