The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union in Zimbabwe (Artuz) said it will approach the courts to interdict the government for reopening schools in light of the increase in COVID-19 infections in the country.
Against advice from seven teachers unions and the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa on Tuesday announced that schools would open on July 28 for candidates for 2020 public examinations.
The Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council (Zimsec) earlier on announced that June examinations would be conducted beginning on June 30.
“It should be noted that 66 000 candidates are sitting for 2020 June examinations. More than 9 900 teachers will be needed to invigilate the examinations,” Artuz said in a statement.
“On opening schools, 136 000 teachers and almost five million learners will be admitted in our schools. The teacher complement will have to be boosted by 90 000 teachers to achieve social distancing in our classrooms and plug the gap of staff shortage.”
Artuz president Obert Masaraure said they would approach the courts to interdict the government from opening schools when the conditions are not yet ripe.
“We are seeking an urgent chamber application from the courts to interdict the government from going ahead with both the writing of June examinations and opening of schools on July 28.
“The paperwork is almost ready. We are also mobilizing for massive street protests by teachers and parents demanding salary review for teachers. However, we remain open to dialogue,” he said.
Artuz jointly authored a petition with six other unions representing teachers on May 2 and 26 and June 8 to stop the opening of schools, while proposing measures that should be undertaken for safe schools opening.
He said the government should ensure that COVID-19 was completely under control for schools to reopen and that teachers are paid an equivalent of US$520.