Teachers defy holiday lessons ban




Edward Shumba

THE banning of holiday lessons remains contentious among stakeholders as teachers continue to provide holiday tutoring.

While the Government banned holiday lessons as a measure to halt the spread of Covid-19; parents, guardians, pupils and teachers have come up with other means to continue with the practice.

Most parents in Mutare, Rusape, Chipinge, Buhera and Nyanga have gone to great lengths to avoid the regulations against private tutoring, arguing that the lessons will improve their children’s understanding of key concepts.

This has resulted in the mushrooming of classrooms in beer halls, churches, houses and private colleges, with Covid-19 protocols disregarded in most of the cases.

Some parents are even offering space in their homes for the tutors.
Complaints have been raised on how teachers abuse the practice for personal enrichment.

There were also reported incidents of teachers who were neglecting their main duties and victimising students whose guardians could not pay for the extra lessons.

Some have attributed the high demand for extra lessons to shoddy teaching during normal school hours.

Instead, schools have been encouraged to offer blended education programming through open distance and e-learning (ODeL) strategies.

Manicaland Provincial Education Director, Mr Edward Shumba said the practice is illegal.

“It is not okay for people to meet in their houses to conduct lessons. It is unfortunate we have no authority over what happens in people’s houses. However, if holiday lessons are being conducted in schools and private colleges registered under the ministry, these cases should be reported to the ministry for action to be taken.

“If people are meeting at homes or privately owned properties for the purpose of delivering lessons, they can be reported to the police,” said Mr Shumba.

Mr Shumba said all school heads and teachers in Manicaland are aware that conducting holiday lessons is illegal.

“They are aware of it and we have effectively enforced the ban at all schools. Teachers conducting lessons at home are breaking the lockdown regulations and can be reported to the police. They are doing it at their own peril and if they get arrested, they will be charged for bringing the name of the ministry into disrepute,” said Mr Shumba.

However, the National Association of Secondary Heads (NASH) president, Mr Aurthur Maphosa, has a different opinion.

“We appeal to the ministry to re-consider its position on the cancellation of holiday lessons. Schools look at holiday lessons as an important component of the catch up programme.

“The alternative methods encouraged by the ministry (e-learning) are suitable in environments with internet services, radio and television stations, yet a huge number of our institutions are not capacitated with these. These Grade Sevens, Form Fours and Upper Sixes did not learn much in 2020, they really need so much face-to-face tutorials with their teachers,” said Mr Maphosa.

Zimbabwe Rural Teachers’ Union (ZRTU) president, Mr Martin Chaburumunda, also said the March 2020 lockdown reduced instructional and learning time, thereby affecting students’ performance.

Mr Ashirai Mawere, the School Development Committee (SDC) chairman for Mt Selinda High School, said pupils have a lot of work to be covered, hence the need for more learning time. – Manica Post