Zimbabwe: Conduct Online Lessons, Schools Told

16 October 2020

Herald Reporter

All public schools must conduct online lessons, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema said yesterday, and warned teachers who are using learners to force the authorities to acquiesce to their wage demands.

After his presentation on the role of education in nation building and development at the Zimbabwe National Defence University, Minister Mathema said he was pursuing commercialisation of practical subjects in schools.

He said this was part of fostering economic self-sustenance.

"Once you have online learning, it means the child has to be assisted at home," said Minister Mathema. "I cannot accept that public schools at this moment do not have online learning facilities, there is absolutely no reason at all. Each school has enough land for commercial activity."

Minister Mathema said Government was aware of reported delinquent behaviour at schools, reports of which are being circulated on social media, and implored elders in society to counsel children.

He said it was not the role of schools alone to bring up children.

"I am personally expecting the parents, guardians, religious leaders, community leaders, to assist these children," said Minister Mathema. "Each child belongs to Zimbabwe.

"I know that there have been on social media, immoral videos that have been circulating," he said. "I do not understand an adult taking videos of children doing wrong things.

"I know some people are saying the children have fallen pregnant. The schools opened less than four weeks ago. Did they fall pregnant at home or at school? That is why I say the issue of discipline should start at home."

If there were cases of sexual activity under the legal age of consent, then criminal action could be taken, he said.

Minister Mathema said teachers who have labour issues should follow procedures with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare and stop using children as pawns for personal gains.

"I know there are some teachers who said they are going on strike," he said. "That is a labour issue. They know the channels. They should go to Minister (Paul) Mavima. Teachers who are using children to try and force Government to acquiesce to their demands are being cruel.

"Do they have children at heart? Do they love children? Why are they using children? We will not accept a situation where other people want to deliberately distort the environment for their own ends."

Before he made his presentation at ZNDU, the institution's Vice Chancellor Air Vice Marshal Dr Michael Moyo, introduced Minister Mathema to students and mentioned that he is a veteran of the liberation struggle who trained together with the late liberation war stalwart General Solomon Mujuru.

In his presentation, Minister Mathema centred on the involvement of schools in the country's quest of attaining an upper middle income society by 2030.

He said Government now wanted a two-pronged approach aimed at profit-making and academic excellence, saying the immediate challenge was to ensure that profits from projects at schools pay examination fees of learners by next year.

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