MINISTRY of General Education Permanent Secretary Dr Jobbicks Kalumba has insisted that schools will reopen as scheduled on January 18, 2021, despite the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.

Speaking when he featured on ZNBC’s Sunday Interview, Dr Kalumba argued that schools were the safest place during this pandemic as they had proven themselves able to manage the pandemic.

“From the Ministry point of view, schools are opening on the 18th of January, 2021. And then, we understand what is going on in the country as a result of this pandemic that has hit the whole globe. However, for the Ministry of Education, and even the Ministry of Health, we developed the guidelines last year and the guidelines were sent to all the schools in the country, to all the provinces and districts with the collaboration, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of General Education, we successfully managed the calendar in the sense that our boys and girls from grade one to grade seven from kindergarten, 10,000 schools in Zambia, we never recorded any death amongst the children. This is evidence of experience that schools are safer than our homes. If children go to school, our teachers…By the way, I want to make one statement that teachers are ‘unsung heroes.’ What they did last year is commendable,” Dr Kalumba said.

“They made sure that the guidelines that the Ministry of Health and Education provided were adhered to. There is order in our schools, the levels of compliance input in schools is compared to none. Go to City Market, go to Soweto Market, go kuma (to) bus stations, there is no order. Schools are the safest environment with regards to this pandemic that has hit the world. While in Kenya, they never opened schools; in Uganda, they never opened schools, the President of this country gave us an opportunity to open the schools. And we didn’t want to disappoint the President; we adhered to the guidelines that were provided by the Ministry of Health, hence the success that we recorded. Schools are safer than our homes. The problem is at your home, at my home where we are not giving our children proper guidance on how to live; the problem is at the city markets; the problem is at the bus stations; the problems are elsewhere, not schools. The safest place so far, and we don’t want anything to disturb the running of the Ministry.”

And Kalumba said it was wrong to compare the pandemic in the US to Zambia and called for the proper handling of the education system during this time.

“…That’s a wrong kind of comparison. For example, they are dying in Brazil 1,000 in a day, how many are dying in Zambia per day, you can’t compare America with Zambia; you can’t compare Zambia with other countries like Spain and Italy, it’s completely a different story, that is a wrong comparison. If we are going to base our decision on what is happening elsewhere, then we are wrong researchers. We know, we are not underplaying COVID-19, it’s there. By the way, let’s not play with education, we will have no future for this country, we will have none; we will have no doctors in the near future if we do not handle this matter properly,” cautioned Dr Kalumba.