Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Reporter
PRIMARY and Secondary Education Permanent Secretary Mrs Tumisang Thabela has said she receives almost 200 WhatsApp messages daily from individuals against the reopening of schools.
She revealed this at Lubuze Primary School in Insiza District, Matabeleland South on Thursday where she was launching Grade 7 English and Mathematics handbooks, aimed at improving access to education in marginalised communities.
Government is working towards reopening schools for examination classes with Grade 7, Form Four and Form Six classes set to open on September 14, for Cambridge writing classes and September 28 for those sitting for Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) examinations.
It is also working on modalities towards the safe reopening of schools and will be providing all learners with personal protective equipment when schools reopen. For safe reopening of schools, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education aims at improving water supplies at the schools and has partnered with a development institution to drill 1 000 boreholes in learning institutions within the coming two weeks.
Mrs Thabela said despite the efforts being made by the Government, some members of the public were sending hurtful messages over why they were working to reopen schools.
“Every day when I sit down at the end of the day, I have an average of 400 WhatsApp messages, especially during this time of Covid-19. Out of that 400, almost half are attacking me and telling me that what I’m doing is nonsense. ‘You can’t open schools, why do you want to risk the lives of our children and all sorts.’ And sometimes I wonder whether people who say this actually have children. If they have them, whether they have children in the public schools that I deal with,” said Mrs Thabela.
She said instead of people attacking her over what her ministry was doing to reopen schools, she was expecting reasonable parents to proffer solutions on the safest ways to reopen schools.
“Because a parent who has a child whose life has been disrupted and continues being disrupted would rather come to me and see what we can do and see how we can move forward rather than the one who would say no child should go back to school,” she said.
Mrs Thabela said while some parents and guardians do not want schools to reopen, they were the same people sending children outdoors, which could easily expose the minors to the global pandemic.
She said they will continue working towards making a positive change in the education sector so that parents see the value of educating their children.
Mrs Thabela said she was pained when she interacted with one parent a few years back who questioned the importance of education after sending his four children to school without any of them succeeding, yet he had sold most of his livestock in trying raise money to educate them.
She said following that discussion, she has made it her mission to ensure education can positively impact communities and spear development. “We are the current leadership of the education sector. We don’t want to be like Methuselah who made an entry into the Bible just because he lived for a thousand years and then he died. There is nothing else you will find about Methuselah apart from the fact that he lived for a thousand years and then died. All of us should not just live for so many years then die without an impact. All of us should leave a legacy and we can only do that by working in the field of human capital development,” she said. — @nqotshili