OVER two months after the closure of schools and colleges to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government yesterday announced June 1, 2020 as a new dawn for reopening colleges and allow form six students to progress with studies ahead of the coming Advanced Certificate for Secondary Education National Examination.
In March 17, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa announced the closure of all kindergarten, primary and secondary schools across the country.
The government also banned all forms of public gatherings, calling on the public to observe safeguards. The premier said the government would review the situation depending on the developments on the ground.
Yesterday, President John Magufuli said following the steady slowdown in coronavirus cases, colleges and form six students who are scheduled to sit for national examinations this year will resume studies nine days from yesterday.
The Head of State was speaking in Dodoma during the swearing in of ambassadors to Kenya, Mozambique and Algeria. The new ambassadors include Jacob Kingu, Faustine Kasike and John Simbachawene.
Also sworn in were the Deputy Minister for Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly and Children, Dr Godwin Mollel, the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) Director General, Brigadier General John Mbungo and Dar es Salaam Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS) Dr Delphine Magere.
According to the National Examinations Council (NEC), Form Six students usually sit national examinations in May every year.
However, this year, the exams were rescheduled due to the danger posed by the novel virus.
The Head of State directed the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the Ministry for Finance and Planning as well as all other relevant ministries to make necessary arrangements within the remaining nine days so that students could access loans and other requirements for studies.
“I have decided to make this announcement early to avoid some challenges; you have nine days to make arrangements,” he noted.
For other secondary and primary school students, the Head of State said the government was continuing to observe the trend of infections.
“We need time to monitor the trend, for universities and form six students, it is a bit easier for them to observe protective measures, but not for kindergarten and primary school pupils,” said President Magufuli.
Meanwhile, some academic institutions yesterday told the ‘Daily News’ that they were well prepared to receive students as ordered by the Head of State.
University of Dodoma (UDOM) Vice Chancellor, Prof Faustine Bee, urged students to get ready for studies on June 1, noting that the management would soon release an official notice for reopening the higher learning institution.
“UDOM students should now monitor our website and other official platforms to become informed on the university’s reopening and procedures to attend lectures while complying with health measures to control coronavirus prevalence,” he said.
Prof Bee explained that UDOM had already started preparations to reopen the institution since the Head of State said he was pondering to reopen colleges and higher learning institutions following the decrease of coronavirus infections.
He said UDOM had formed a special task force tasked to prepare the campus for studies in response to the coronavirus, adding that the university plans to introduce e-learning to discourage crowding in lecture theatres.
“E-learning will enable students to follow up studies even in hostels and other places in the campus. It is aimed at discouraging crowding in lecture theatres. We are also arranging that students should keep a one metre distance from one another,,” he said, adding: “It should be noted that the Covid-19 is still prevalent. UDOM will continue to comply with all health measures to stop coronavirus prevalence in the campus,” said the UDOM Vice Chancellor.
Immediately after the Head of State’s order, the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) informed higher learning institutions’ students that it had started arrangements for paying a total of 63.7bn/- to students for food and accommodation.
The board is also finalizing arrangements for payment of 59.1bn/- tuition fees to over 70 higher learning institutions across the country.
According to the information from the board’s Communications Unit, the payments are being effected to meet the June 1, deadline as directed by the Head of State.
“The HESLB arrangements allow students to receive money for food and accommodation four times a year, and thus receive the money at 60 day intervals,” reads part of the statement.
The board is set to release a total of 450bn/- to 132,119 students during the 2019/20 academic year.
Covid-19 statistics released on Sunday showed that the number of patients at Amana hospital was 12, a massive drop from 198.
Other facilities (the number of patients in brackets) were Mloganzila (6), Lulanzi centre in Kibaha District, Coast Region (22 patients), Aga Khan Hospital (31), Hindu Mandal (16), Regency Hospital (17), TMJ (7) and Rabinisia Hospital (14).