THE Minister for Education, Science and Technology, Prof Joyce Ndalichako yesterday announced a new school calendar starting from June 29 through December 18.
Besides, she unveiled the national examination schedule indicating that Standard Seven and Form Two will write their exams between October 7 and 8 and from November 9 to 20 respectively.
Form Four and Standard Four, according to the minister, will sit for the exams between November 23 and December 11 and on November 25 and 26, respectively.
The fresh examination calendar was released just a day after President John Magufuli announced June 29 as a date for schools’ reopening after considerable decline in Covid-19 cases in the country.
Prof Ndalichako told the media that there are no cases of Covid-19 among Form Six students and those in higher learning institutions, who resumed classes on June 1, 2020 as per report of June, 16.
The minister said there will be no mid-term break and relevant authorities have been directed to extend learning for two more hours to fill the gap caused by inadvertent schools’ closure.
“Schools should add two hours daily in their time table to compensate the time students spent at home so that they could be able to cover all the syllabi within time….this does not include the nursery levels” she said.
The minister noted that Form Five students will have a tight schedule where they will report on June 29 but will sit for their term examination on 24th July and three days later they are expected to begin form six classes.
She reminded all learning institutions to observe all preventive measures against coronavirus, adding that directives and guidelines issued earlier by the health ministry should be heeded.
Prof Ndalichako insisted that pupils under five years should not wear face masks, warning school authorities against forcing parents to purchase face covers from the schools.
On the complaints about school fees, Prof Ndalichako urged school boards, owners and parents to be guided by wisdom in handling the matter.
“There must be understanding between all interested parties, which should be fair and amicable, as we are all aware of the coronavirus and the impact it has created,” said the Minister
Speaking to the ‘Daily News’ yesterday, some parents and guardians with students studying in private schools said they are waiting for joint meetings with their schools on the way forward.
A resident of Iringa Municipal Mr Amani Semi called for schools to consider waiving the amount of school fees that was supposed to be paid in this year, to compensate the three months period when schools were closed.
“Most people are now in a financial crisis, I think it would be wise for both parties (parents and schools) to come up with a decision that is in favour of all,” he said.
For him he said before the emergency school closure in March this year due to Covid-19, he had already paid half of the fee that was supposed to be paid this year, and now he is waiting to be notified by the school on whether he has to pay another amount or otherwise.
“But as President Magufuli said, life should go on, our children must go back to school, we shall see what the school will say and if possible give out our opinion,” he said.
His views were seconded by Graceana Renalt who is in Moshi, Kilimanjaro region and Alice Adam (a resident of Dar es Salaam), saying they have no option but to wait for the guidance from their schools.
“It’s a bit challenging and stressful at the same time because my children have to resume studies, we need to negotiate with schools because my financial flow has been highly affected by the pandemic,” said Ms Alice.
In other development, the Tanzania Association of Managers and Owners of Non-government Schools and Colleges (TAMONGSCO) directed all private school owners to hold meetings with parents before schools reopen to come up with a better approach that would help smoothly run the remaining term.
The association's national Chairman, Mr Leonard Mao, told the 'Daily News' over the phone, the aim was to avoid hearsay and confusion that is now circulating; as every school has its operating system and contracts agreed with parents.
“The unexpected coronavirus should not distort the system. If teachers are sure to complete the syllabus, then there is no reason for parents to ask for fee refunds. Parents should fulfill the responsibility of paying school fees, and make sure that their children have completed the syllabus.” he explained.
Mr Mao insisted that school owners should pay their teachers all the arrears, as it will motivate them to teach well and complete the syllabus on time.
However, he requested the government not to interfere especially when it comes to paying fees; as the money is needed to help in the running of various costs including paying salaries.
“Schools are directed to hold meetings with parents; the resolutions will help in the peaceful running of the school,” he reiterated.
He also explained that the transportation fee that was paid to schools during the time schools were closed should be carried over to the coming term.
“Parents who have paid transportation fees before the novel virus should not be asked to pay the entire fee now, rather the money should be carried over to the coming term,” he asserted.
A non-profit civil society organization, HakiElimu, has commended the government’s move to reopen schools at the end of this month as the plan will help protect the children’s right to education.
It also urged the government to frame a friendly learning timetable that will help students and pupils catch up and readjust learning for months of missed classes.
HakiElimu Executive Director Dr John Kalage made the remarks yesterday when officiating at an online forum on how the schooling systems accommodate the negative impacts of the Covid-19 to learning.
“It is good for the government and other stakeholders to draw up plans that will help the students catch up and readjust learning for the period of missed classes once they get back to school,” he said.
Meanwhile, residents of Bukoba municipal in Kagera region and the surrounding villages have welcomed with jubilation President Magufuli’s order for reopening of schools following decline in number of Covid-19 patients in Tanzania.
Oliva Katalikweba (26) a resident of Kashai Ward could not hide her joy “We thank President Magufuli for his decision to open the schools. We have been anxiously waiting for the decision,” she said.
Jamal Otantambuka (45) from Katoro Ward, in Bukoba Rural district said the decision was timely and would enable the students to continue with their studies.