The Ministry Of Higher and Tertiary Education Innovation, Science, and Technology Development said State Universities will be reopening from June 1, under strict World Health Organisation guidelines.
Speaking to the State Media, Minister Murwira said only final year students will be receiving physical classes while others will receive distant learning education
We have agreed on a general date of June 1. This is when every university should start blended learning. In the first phase, only final year classes are expected to be receiving face-to-face learning, while others use online learning. We did this to allow social distancing on campus,”
We have also agreed with institutions that examinations are going to be written between July and mid-August then the semester ends,
Prof Murwira said.
Large classes will have to be broken down into a group of smaller classes and universities have been asked to rework their timetables.
We are not going to compromise on the safety of our students. Education is for the living, we gave a specific order to universities to ensure they put systems in place that will see a safe environment for students,” Prof Murwira said.
We will be working with our relevant sister ministries to ensure that the process happens in a seamless manner. If there will be waivers needed, we will respond to the need in a coordinated manner with the Ministry of Health and Child Care as well as the Ministry of Home Affairs,”
Prof Murwira said.
Student Unions welcomed the move with a pinch of salt.
Zimbabwe Congress of Students Union (Zicosu) said:
We welcome the development because Government is trying hard to make sure final years complete their studies. We are deeply worried because we know the capacity of our institutions. On their own they cannot guarantee our safety without assistance from Government,”
said Zicosu President Pijiwest Nhamburo.
The Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU):
Students must only be on campuses if the Government can assure the nation that institutions will adhere to WHO guidelines on prevention of the spread of Covid-19 and institutions that have been used as quarantine and isolation centres must be thoroughly disinfected.
There must be adequate rapid test kits. Government and institutions must provide facemasks and sanitisers for staff and students.
Institutions must be willing to make sure all students have data bundles before any online learning is taken seriously. The past weeks have been a disaster as many students were excluded from WhatsApp lectures as they did not have data bundles
said Chiriga President of ZINASU.
In other countries most university activity has been moved online. In the United Kingdom, Cambridge University has moved all lectures to online until next year, for example, and many American universities are following a similar path.