By NQOBANI NDLOVU
TEACHER unions have threatened to sue the government if it decides to impose e-learning.
The educators have also vowed not to report for duty at their stations arguing that schools are not ready to re-open under the present Covid-19 threat.
Government has proposed a gradual re-opening of schools starting with learners, who are writing their final year examinations.
Teacher unions, however, insist schools should remain shut until they are proved to be Covid-19 safe for educators and learners.
In a joint statement, the teacher unions urged the government to instead “open churches, bars and weddings to assess the contagious effect of gatherings of 50 plus people” before considering opening schools.
The unions, fearing that the government will suggest e-learning as a stop-gap measure, threatened to sue against such, citing the digital divide that disadvantages the poor, marginalised and rural learners.
“We will challenge the decision to impose online learning on all pupils as this will clearly disadvantage 70-80% of primary and secondary school children.
“They have no gadgets, no power, no data. We can’t celebrate modernity when we have not invested in it,” Raymond Majongwe, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe secretary-general, said.
The Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (Artuz) said public schools were not safe for both the educators and learners under the current conditions.
“Government’s hurried schools opening programme is inspired by pursuit of elite interests,”Artuz said.
“They don’t care much about our public schools; they are supporting business as usual.
“Our public schools have no capacity to open under the obtaining environment. The poor will be left behind.”
According to Unesco, over 1.2 billion learners across the globe are going without access to education owing to the Covid-19-induced closure of schools.
In Zimbabwe, while virtual learning presents the best opportunity for learners to catch up, the high cost of data, poor network connectivity in the rural areas and poverty mean a considerable number have no access to learning material during the lockdown.