THE National Action for Quality Education in Zambia says schools should next year open on January 11, 2021 and not the 4th.
Executive director Aaron Chansa however said the announcement by the Ministry of General Education that the national academic calendar would be normalised in January next year had cheered NAQEZ.
Chansa said the earlier scheme of beginning the 2021 academic year in March would have fundamentally fractured the schooling system.
“However, we hold a position that reopening schools on 4th January, 2021 will not academically be healthy for teachers and learners,” he said. “This is chiefly because, between 4th December 2020 and 4th January 2021, teachers will heavily be involved in marking end of year tests, invigilating as well as marking national examinations. These important activities will extensively drain energies of our teachers and they will need a week to rest and prepare well for 2021.”
Chansa said NAQEZ does not believe in the schooling system which mostly glorifies theoretical examinations at the expense of acquisition of useful skills, competencies, values and principles for one’s survival.
He advised the Ministry of General Education not to force schools to do uncompleted curriculum content for 2020 in Term 1 of 2021.
“It will not be possible for teachers to teach the undone 2020 academic work at the same time deliver Term 1 work for 2021 work. If forced, we fear the academic overload for learners will amount to nothing but very poor learning outcomes,” Chansa said.
He said the suggestion of NAQEZ was that the Ministry of Education, the Examinations Council of Zambia (ECZ), the Curriculum Development Centre (CDC), NAQEZ and other stakeholders must immediately sit to identify certain topics that can be fixed from the 2020 content.
Chansa said this would avoid overloading teachers and learners and only allow teachers to concentrate on critical topics for 2021.
He said the school syllabus was not a constitutional requirement that must be completed even in times of crisis “like this one”.
“It is not cast in concrete; it can collectively be adjusted. In fact, foregoing few topics will have less negative effects, if any, as compared to overloading teachers and learners in 2021,” said Chansa. “Once again, we applaud the Ministry of General Education for reverting back to the normal academic calendar. This decision will enable all learners to be back in school without waiting unnecessarily too long.”