GOVERNMENT has stirred a hornet’s nest after declaring that Grade 7 pupils who finished writing their end of year Zimbabwe School Examinations Council (Zimsec) tests yesterday will continue attending school.
Also banned by the government are school field trips for the junior school graduands, giving rise to angry reactions from parents and teacher unions who said they saw no sense in the decree.
Many parents who had travelled to boarding schools hoping to collect their children returned home empty-handed following the government order, triggering anger among the parents who had over the years been used to collecting their children soon after they completed writing their examinations.
In a circular dated October 5, 2023, the Primary and Secondary Education ministry ordered all schools to ensure that pupils attended schools until the end of the third term.
The ministry’s permanent secretary Kwadzanai Nyanungo also banned the Grade Seven pupils from conducting field trips after sitting for their examinations, citing safety concerns.
“The time after the last Grade 7 examination paper is not a school holiday because all Grade 7 pupils should attend classes until the end of the term. Heads of schools are duty-bound to make solid arrangements for all Grade 7 pupils to receive meaningful lessons and practical exercise in preparations for their transition to secondary school,” Nyanungo said.
“For the safety of pupils and curriculum alignment, no education tours should be undertaken by school after the Grade 7 examinations.”
Government also banned schools from holding fund-raising programmes.
According to information gathered by NewsDay, several schools had planned field trips after the Grade 7 Zimsec examinations, with parents having already paid for the trips to mainly tourist resorts such as Victoria Falls, Kariba and Nyanga.
Yesterday, several schools were holding farewell parties for the Grade 7 pupils, while others were scheduled for this week as schools anticipated lessened pressure from the outgoing pupils.
Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe president Obert Masaraure said: “Government is consistently issuing this order year in, year out. No one will take heed of the order because it is not backed by a solid programme to occupy the learners. Government should create a post-Grade 7 learning programme if they want to detain learners in schools. In the absence of a programme teachers and learners will disregard the order.
“Such a post-Grade 7 programme should serve as orientation for entry to secondary school and impart important life skills. This can go a long way to protect learners from the social ills that can harm learners if they spend more time at home.”
Zimbabwe Teachers Association secretary-general Goodwill Taderera said it was difficult to stop the learners from going for the trips.
“During the third term, schools usually organise tours for upper grades, so it’s not unusual for Grade 7 pupils to have trips during this time. While it is a noble idea to keep the pupils busy to protect them from social ills. It is difficult to manage a child who has already registered in their minds that they are done with primary school,” he said.
“The challenge is that the Grade Seven learners are sitting for their exams too early. There is a need for a general consensus by all stakeholders on how to enforce the measure.”
One disgruntled parent who chose to remain anonymous said: “This is a nonsensical directive which puts unnecessary pressure on teachers who are being poorly paid by this government in the first place. It makes no sense to keep pupils at an institution where they no longer have much interest in. It is an unnecessary burden which will cause headaches for school heads and teachers.” Newsday