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Are All Schools Student-Ready This Winter?

Efforts by government to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) should be commended.

While many seem to criticise all these initiatives, there are some who believe Botswana is somewhat winning in containing the spread of the virus.

With that said, COVID-19 has also been a thorn on everyone’s side, a global disaster and, in particular, an unwelcome disruptor for the school calendar. As schools reopen today, the timing gives pause that coupled with COVID-19 students have to resume their calendar in the dead of winter. 

Is this really a good idea? Over the past few months we have seen schools racing against time to ensure they comply with COVID-19 protocols.

Some schools across the country have installed jojo tanks of different sizes and hand washbasins. Still, there are some people who believe the projects were too expensive. Some schools managed to build proper toilets, and yet many felt the projects were over-priced.

The one example that might still be fresh in people’s minds is that of Nkoyaphiri Primary School toilet block valued at P1 million, which raised eyebrows.

As schools open to the rest of the student population today, a number of schools have announced they will be using tents as makeshift classrooms.

Well, we all understand the importance of young ones attaining an education, but their health should be first and foremost. Our future leaders have a right to learn in a safe and conducive environment, preferably in a space that offers warmth in the cold.

It does not take a rocket scientist to know that a tent is not the best shield against a

very cold winter or a very hot summer for that matter. Having a choice between the two conditions, if offered up as an option, summer would pose a challenge because of the heat but one much more preferable over the unbearable cold of winter.

As much as the heat has its negative effects on one’s health, summer is better preferred as teachers would have the choice to open the tent windows and doors to support fresh air circulation.

Winter is an entirely different matter.  One would hope schools decide to provide heaters for all affected students and teachers under those tents, as this could be a long and tough season for them.

Apart from the harsh conditions that may be hazardous to the learners’ health, it is extremely difficult for anyone to concentrate when they are feeling cold, which means there is a small chance that any effective learning would take place.

The government, while raising funds to build more classrooms for schools, could perhaps use porta cabins as classrooms, and if ordered, communicate effectively to parents why they are delayed and how to best prepare younglings for the meantime.

We all understand that the government is facing a humongous challenge of protecting the health of all citizens, but let’s not compromise that of our future leaders. If schools are not ready – at least for the non-completing classes – the government could have taken the decision to re-open schools after the bitter and unforgiving winter season is over!




Flogging a dead horse

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