ON the weekend the debate on whether schools should re-open in the midst of the pandemic was ignited after the statement which allegedly originated from the Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary Dr Jobbicks Kalumba’s office, the teacher’s unions have spoken in one voice just like other Zambians to reject the impulsive approach to reopen schools in the absence of any guidance from the medical experts.
The statement in question was allegedly a circular from the Permanent Secretary to the Provincial Education Officers, the DEBS offices, the Head teachers and the teaching fraternity at large urging them to put in place measures to ensure the reopening of schools.
There has not been a formal reply from the ministry on the originality or authenticity of the statement. It is apparently clear the ministry has its own position despite the collective stance by the government.
However, irrespective of the issues surrounding the statement, this should be a point of reflection so as to appreciate on whether there is any conflict of interest among the senior government officials for them to greet the nation by storm with these insensitive recommendations to reopen the schools.
The onus is on key stakeholders such as the Auditor General’s Office, the Integrity Committees and other stakeholders to undertake a fact finding mission and appreciate whether there are private schools in which the government officials have an interest.
This is not to say, the senior officials should not be part of the private sector supplementing Government efforts in delivery of educational services to the learners. The nation is entitled to know on whether the recommendations to reopen the schools at the highest Corona virus pandemic mortality which has reached exponential levels is informed with by patriotism or the desire to have commercial advantage.
There is no doubt, recommendations of that nature is frustrating the efforts of the government and other stakeholders to control the spreading of the virus.
Moreover, the third wave of the Covid pandemic has not exempted victims and last week it was reported that a month-old baby succumbed to it. It is therefore incumbent upon us to ensure a win-win sacrifice to supplement the efforts of stakeholders.
A look at the statement by the Secretary to the Cabinet Dr Simon Miti delivered on June 16, 2021 whilst announcing the heightening the Covid restrictions, it was clear that the measures will continue to be in place until they have been reviewed. The Ministry of General Education cannot usurp the revisionary function of Cabinet to call for the reopening of the schools.
MARVIN CHANDA MBERI,