Auxilia Katongomara Bulawayo Bureau
THE first school term calendar, which in the past has been 13 weeks, has this year been shortened to 11 weeks. Schools opened on January 9 and will close on March 28, yet in the past schools used to close during the first week of April. The shortening of the school term was necessitated by the Easter holidays that start on March 30 ending on April 2. The second school term will start on May 9 and ends on August 9 while the third term will begin on September 11 and ends on December 6, both terms having 13 weeks.
Some parents fear that public examinations sitting classes would be affected by both the short first term and harmonised elections later in the year. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, permanent secretary, Dr Sylvia Utete Masango said learning would not be affected.
“We have not yet really looked into that and we will advise but at the moment I had not checked when Easter is starting. The other issue is that election dates are yet to be announced,” said Dr Masango. Parents normally resort to extra lessons for examination sitting pupils but Government has maintained that it is illegal to offer extra lessons to pupils for a fee.
Recently, Primary and Secondary Education Minister Professor Paul Mavima said paid extra lessons were creating problems in the civil service. He said Government will not allow teachers to be paid for extra lessons.
“Extra lessons are a problem because we cannot have a rational civil service with extra lessons. What if teachers then do not teach during the normal time waiting for parents to pay something in order to receive a service that you were supposed to receive from Government anyway? So the issue of extra lessons had serious problems,” he said.
“So we are not going back to a situation where teachers are paid for extra lessons but we are not saying no to extra lessons per se. What we are saying no to is the payment.”