WE have taken a cautious approach to reopening our colleges of education and this will be subject to review as the pandemic evolves, says general education minister David Mabumba.
And Mabumba says all colleges of education have been directed to reopen classes for examination classes (3rd year) on June 29, 2020.
Mabumba said in a statement on the reopening of public and private colleges that President Edgar Lungu’s proclamation order for the closure of all educational institutions on March 20, 2020 was to curb the possibility of further spreading the coronavirus, which was declared as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Mabumba said as part of the implementation of the COVID-19 response plan, the Ministry of General Education implemented a number of alternative modes of education delivery in learning institutions.
He said in the colleges of education, the alternative modes included: e- learning portals, online programmes through WhatsApp and Zoom and Moodle platforms.
Mabumba said the provision of alternative education modes was done in light of providing education to students and at the same time avoid complete lockdown of teaching and learning in our colleges of education.
“The successful implementation of the COVID -19 response plan indeed depended on our collective adherence to the spirit and principle of togetherness, consultation and journey of continuous strategic improvement,” Mabumba said.
He said during this period, the Ministry of General Education had received support from cooperating partners, private sector, individuals and all meaning patriots, which enabled students to continue learning with minimum disruption.
“Following His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Zambia, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s directive that we undertake consultations on the possibility of reopening of colleges of education, the ministry consulted widely in a multi sectorial approach to review and assess the reopening of colleges of education to the final year students as consultations to reopen other cohorts still continue,” he said.
“This is done to avoid overcrowding in the institutions. It is from this perspective that a steady and strategic undertaking to the reopening of colleges of education will be taken into consideration in adherence to laid down guidelines provided for by the Ministry of Health to COVID -19 pandemic of social distancing, washing of hands, masking up, avoidance of unnecessary gatherings and maintaining healthy and safe environments,” he said.
He said as the preparations to reopen colleges were under way, strategies have been put in place to have colleges fumigate their hostels and classrooms before students report back; clean surroundings to uphold hygiene standards, and ensuring adequate flow of water all the time, reducing the number of students per class to observe social distancing and restricting two students per room as a new normal.
Mabumba said having put all strategies in place, all colleges of education have been directed to reopen for examination classes (3rd Year) on June 29, 2020.
He said this reopening was to enable the final year (3rd year) students prepare adequately for their final examinations at the end of the year, as the ministry continues preparing for the non-examination classes.
“This is because the ministry does not want to disturb the academic calendar of the final year as they are writing their final year examinations at the end of the year. The closing date will be communicated to you later after the opening date for non-examination classes is determined,” he said
“It is in this regard that the remaining students will continue learning using their usual e-learning modes which colleges of education have put in place. When reporting back, students are requested to bring their own face masks, soaps and hand sanitisers as these will not be provided for by the colleges.”
Mabumba said the ministry would continue working with the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders to ensure safety of students, lecturers and other staff in the colleges.
He said the colleges of education would be expected to strictly adhere to the developed COVID-19 guidelines which clearly stipulate roles and responsibilities of stakeholders, measures and actions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in learning institutions, health monitoring and disease management, sustaining health services as well as compliance and minimum standards.
“Before colleges reopen, they will need to be inspected and certified ready by the appropriate authorities. As a ministry, we have taken a cautious approach to reopening our colleges of education and this will be subject to review as the pandemic evolves. In order for the students to be in a safe environment, we will require the support of everyone, that is, staff, parents, guardians and the students themselves,” said Mabumba.