The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) has condemned the move by the government to allow only schools with water access to reopen.
The teacher’s union said the decision discriminates against learners in public schools that lack this provision.
This comes after government ordered schools operating without water to delay reopening until their situation has been rectified.
Government through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education introduced a three-phased approach to schools resumption beginning with exam classes that commenced learning on September 28.
This is despite threats by teachers to withdraw their labour citing incapacitation and lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs).
According to World Health Organization (WHO), hand washing is the most important method in preventing the spread of COVID-19. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) equates clean hands to saving lives.
During a post-Cabinet media briefing, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said schools that were unable to provide water at their premises for purposes of promoting hygiene would not open.
“Designated Temporary Isolation Holding Bays have been set up at each school for individuals requiring further health attention after screening,” said Mutsvangwa.
“There is mandatory logging and thermal screening at every school entry and exit point in order to enhance contact tracing and surveillance. Schools that are unable to provide water are being advised that they cannot re-open before the situation is rectified.”
ARTUZ however castigated what it sees as an ill-informed decision by the government to open schools before the crisis in the education sector that ranges from teachers remuneration, water supply, safety of learners and shortage of learning materials have been addressed.
The teachers’ union blasted the discriminatory nature of opening up schools with access to water whilst those without water to remain closed as disadvantaging students from the less privileged schools.
“Students sit for the same examinations, content should be covered in the same learning period, and however the government is promoting inequality by denying access to education to disadvantaged learners without access to water. Therefore we urge the government to immediately close all schools and first address salary dispute with teachers, provide water supply and PPEs in all schools to ensure equality is promoted.”