Mbabane: As government continue to employ new ways of combatting to spread of the covid-19 pandemic, schools and educational institutions cannot be closed forever.
This was disclosed by the Prime Minister Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini on Tuesday afternoon while giving the governmentCOVID-19 response update at the cabinet offices
“Form 5 and completing classes at tertiary level will be opening on July 6, 2020”. Making the announcement the Prime Minister said the 6th July 2020 has been identified as a probable realistic date to initiate the re-opening exercise.
Dlamini said, educational Institutions remain a critical sector towards socio-economic development, as a result “Schools and Educational Institutions cannot remain closed for ever”.
In preparedness for the re-opening of Educational Institutions, Dlamini said Government in consultation with stakeholders such as the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT), Eswatini Principal Association, UN Agencies, has developed a framework to guide the safe re-opening of schools and tertiary.
Dlamini added that the school calendar adjustment and recovery strategy has been developed and Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) have been developed with the assistance of the Ministry of Health, to ensure alignment to the WHO COVID-19 regulations.
He noted that if the academic year is not ended it may suggest bigger challenges later on as schools may not have the capacity to enroll new Grade 1 pupils. The system would be clogged up. One lost academic year can lead to unprecedented socio-economic challenges such as gaps in labour market skill-sets in subsequent years.
With the need to re-open Educational Institutions, Government said is aware that proper systems and strategies should be in place to ensure the safety and well-being of learners and teachers in schools and also compensate for lost instructional time. According to the Premier Government has mounted a number of distance learning initiatives to ensure that teaching and learning continues even under the partial lockdown.
He said Consultations and trainings with School Committees and teachers are currently on-going to ensure the entire school populace and community is ready to adhere to the new standards as expected. A screening tool for COVID-19 symptoms has also been developed and a strategy on training of school communities on COVID-19 is in place
Government appealed to all stakeholders including parents, teachers and the transportation sector to cooperate with Government as schools will be re-opening. The easing of business operations and the planned re-opening of schools is not in any way a signal that things are back to normal.