HARARE – Parents of pupils in the three examination classes that start today were doing last-minute shopping yesterday, boarding schools had their buses ready at pick-up points in time yesterday morning while all schools were activating the preparations they have been making for a minimum risk environment when lessons resume.
It is going to be a long term, running right up to a week before Christmas, and examination classes have 80 lesson days in the 16 weeks, with no exeat weekends and no public holidays.
Other classes, which start next Monday, have 75 school days in a 15-week term.
The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education wants all children in school from day one, so schools have been authorised to make payment plans for parents so the delays in raising fees and levies do not further impact on their children.
Boarding schools sent our their fleets. In car parks near the Harare Magistrates’ Courts, there were rows of buses including those from St Marks High School, Junction Adventist High, Mavhudzi High School, Ruya Adventist and Chinyika Primary School.
Other parents were busy buying stationery at shops and supermarkets and shops selling school uniforms were open.
Pricing was an issue, so some parents were having to shop around to find shop-owners who were at least pricing fairly and not shoving on last-minute extra mark-ups.
Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education spokesperson Mr Taungana Ndoro said yesterday that all was set for the opening of schools for examination classes.
“All things go ahead as both learners and teachers are ready for the resumption of examination classes.
“In terms of school fees, schools are allowed to do payment plans with parents. We want learners to go back to school first, parents should just engage authorities with their payment plans, but no one should be sent home,” said Mr Ndoro.
Some parents said while it was hard to prepare for their children given the short notice, they were grateful that face-to-face schooling was finally back.
Mrs Patience Chifurutse-Matsika, whose child learns at Junction Adventist High School, said: “We are grateful that our children have managed to return back to school after a long break induced by Covid-19.
“We are struggling, but have managed to overcome. We had budgeted for fees quite a long time ago, but ended up using the money for other purposes, but all will be well.”
Mr Paul Kwaramba, with a child doing Form 6 at St Marks High School, said they were now drained financially as they paid fees and now have to contend with other needs such as food and rent.
“The school fees increased from $38 000 last term to $50 000 and the school authorities were demanding the extra $12 000, with learners required to produce proof of payment before getting onto the bus,” he said.
“Prices for some food has gone up and it was very strenuous and right now, we have been left almost at zero. But since kids have to go to school, we managed so that they return.”
Mrs Catherine Kawonde, whose child attends Mavhudzi High School, said they were ill-prepared when the date was announced.
“The required school fees remained the same, but groceries were expensive compared to the last term,” she said.
Learners were happy to be back in school as some of them said they were just relaxing at home.
Vice head boy for St Marks High School in Chegutu, Masimba Alexio Gutsa, said: “We were not learning, we were just relaxing at home. I know some of our parents feel it was a short notice, but for us it is a huge relief because we were doing nothing at home, no learning whatsoever.
“As for me, I stay in Murehwa and in my area sometimes Internet connectivity was a challenge, hindering me from participating in online lessons. I am actually glad that schools have been opened.”
A Form 6 student at Ruya Adventist High School, Tafadzwa Ruzhini, said she was doing some online lessons and was “definitely prepared”.
Yohanna Kanyumwa who is in Form 6 at St Marks High School, said she was well-prepared for the examinations.
“I was reading while at home since I knew that Zimsec has already set its examination papers, so I needed to prepare.”