MINISTER of General Education David Mabumba has announced that third and fourth year students in both private and public colleges of education will re-open on June 29, 2020.

And Mabumba has announced that he took a COVID-19 test on Sunday after visiting various parts of the country, including Nakonde, and the results came out negative.

Speaking at a press briefing, Tuesday, Minister, Mabumba said following President Edgar Lungu’s directive to re-open schools for examination classes, colleges of education would resume lessons on June 29, 2020.

He said an academic calendar would be released next week.

“So under the umbrella of the re-opening of higher education institutions as well as the Tevet Institutions, the ministry sat and looked at what it is that we can do and therefore, I want to announce to the Zambian people that all the colleges of education in the Republic of Zambia, it be private, it be public, they will be re-opening on the 29th of June 2020. We have decided to provide this clarity so that we allow colleges to prepare in the next two or three weeks, also to prepare the students wherever they are because many of the students are spread across the geography of this country so we needed to fix a date in terms of when the colleges of education will be opening. So 29th of June, they will be re-opening, in terms of the actual academic calendar, this is going to be issued maybe next week when I will be delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament in terms of how the examination classes have commenced thus far, what are the success stories, what are some of the challenges that we have,” Mabumba said.

“Now as you may recall too, the President on the 8th of May when he directed the re-opening of examination classes, he, too directed that we need to undertake consultations on how we deal with the non-examination classes, including the colleges of education and you may too recall that last week, the Minister of Higher education held a press briefing in which he had announced the re-opening of higher education institutions as well as Tevet institutions but we felt that we needed to make a clarity because the Ministry of General Education has almost more than 100 colleges public and private and I think in the press briefing, we are not too sure whether clarity was provided so we thought we needed to provide clarity to our colleges of education wherever they are, it be private as well as public.”

He added that the re-opening of these institutions would focus on third and fourth year students while first and second years could continue with the e-learning programmes.

“I am also mindful of the fact that some of the colleges of education have got fourth year students who are doing degree programmes. So focus is on those colleges with fourth year students and third year students who are about to graduate at the end of this year and the government will be able to see how the second and first year students will be able to rejoin the colleges of education. In the meantime, the colleges will continue to deliver programs for the non-examination years through e-learning, through WhatsApp and the various modes of education that have been designed to provide education during the closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mabumba said.

He said so far, from the 40 districts that he had visited, he was happy with the preparedness by school managers in COVID-19 prevention for examination class students.

“As you may recall, the President provided a policy direction in which he had directed that all the examination classes re-open on the 1st of June…and like you heard, most of us have been in the field trying to monitor schools in terms of their preparedness. For me, I visited almost 40 districts in a very short period of time just to see how schools were performing. Thus far as minister, and having been to the 40 districts, I am happy to confirm that a lot of work was put in place by our school managers and we need to celebrate with them…because even after the re-opening, you have heard that we have continued going and monitoring the schools and that will continue,” Mabumba added.

And the minster announced that he tested negative to COVID-19 after coming into contact with colleagues who had tested positive and visiting epicenters such as Nakonde.

“During my tour of duty, many of you were calling me to say ‘minister you have come into contact with some of your colleagues as part of this issuance of press briefings’. Yes, I did do that and my team and I even visited epicenters, for example Nakonde, because we needed to demonstrate leadership. There is no way you can commandeer a war while you are hiding somewhere. So I needed to go into Nakonde, I needed to go into all the epicenters and I thank God some of you were calling me to find out whether I was in isolation. I was not in isolation and therefore I decided to take a COVID-19 test on Sunday and it was negative and I will ask the team when they will be making the next announcement to include it because I know as a leader, I needed to come out open,” said Mabumba.