MINISTRY of General Education Permanent Secretary for Technical Services Dr Jobbicks Kalumba has announced that the remaining school calendar for the year 2021 will run from Thursday, August 5 to December 10.

And Dr Kalumba says learners will not be required to pay school fees for the continuation of Term two.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services permanent secretary Amos Malupenga says while government understands the short notice to re-open schools, guardians were recently paid and will be able to set aside adequate resources.

Speaking during a joint press briefing, Tuesday, Dr Kalumba explained that term two would end on September 27 while Term three would be from September 28 to December 10.

“The worries that people have raised about the school fees and the terms, we are in term two as the Ministry of Education but the school calendar will run from 5th August to 10 December, 2021. We are in term two which is going to end on 27th of September, 2021. Term three now begins on 28th of September, 2021. Depending on the guidance of the Ministry of Health, if all goes well without high rates of COVID-19, term three will begin on 28th September, 2021 implying that we will not close up to December because of the examinations and covering up of the syllabuses. The details of a short break during the course of term three will be given to the general public,” he said.

Dr Kalumba said learners would not be required to pay school fees for the continuation of Term two.

He, however, added that parents would be required to pay school fees for the beginning of Term three.

“When the schools were prematurely closed, we calculated that we had remained with seven weeks before the normal closure. This implied that we had remained with one month, three weeks. We understand that the resources for the school that the parents paid towards that term, remain intact. This means that when the pupils go back to school on Thursday, they will not pay any school fees because the resources are available for that previous term. Even if we were going to say schools will open on 30th of August, we will still remember that the schools closed prematurely so that money is still there. In term three, this is the time when the parents can now pay school fees because children will be in school from that particular time up to December and they need to feed. By then, the money you paid for the previous term would have been exhausted. So this is a fair play,” Dr Kalumba stated.

“In case of certain expenses, government will provide relief. In case there is a disturbance here and there, we will provide relief. This is a confirmation that the parents should appreciate that government has taken a responsibility for our children to go back to school without additional school fees. Our prayer is that parents allow the boys and girls to get back to school. I have interviewed so many boys and girls and they are very excited about this. They posed a lot of challenges to you but we know how to take care of them. Let them go back to school. We do not want to experience what we experienced last year, where so many girls got pregnant and that is a loss of a generation.”

Dr Kalumba further appealed to Private school owners to comply with guidelines set by government.

“For the private schools, we have a calendar that we provide as the Ministry of Education in the calendar for all institutions of learning in the country. The calendar must be respected by each one of us who are the stakeholders in the Ministry of Education. When we talk of the fees, it implies the same because the same period we are talking about, is the period that the private schools also experienced. We appeal to the private owners to ensure that we comply with the provisions that the Ministry or government has set. I have heard that some private schools are demanding that before the child is enrolled in the school system, they should pay. It is not necessary but let us wait for 28th September before the parents can be charged extra fees. These are our people so let us listen to their cry,” said Dr Kalumba.

Meanwhile, Malupenga said parents and guardians have just been paid so reopening schools now should not stress them.

“We remind ourselves that today is the 3rd of August. This is just a few days after most parents got paid. If they are implying that they would be more ready to re-open on the 16th of August, but the 16th is actually even further from the pay day. Resources are hard to come by but the question is ‘if we are ready to re-open on the 16th, between now and the 16th of August, where is the money going to come from if we are just depending on salaries? Or other activities? The bottom line is the issue of funds will always be there whether it is payday or not,” said Malupenga.

“We know the times we are living in are difficult so we have to continually find a way of managing. The notice could have been short but we also look at the bigger picture of what we are trying to achieve for the benefit of all of us. The excuses we have are legitimate but they will always be there whether with adequate or inadequate notice. We know some people who have not even been able to write exams because they do not have the money when they knew the exam calendar way before. So we just expect cooperation and we plead for cooperation from the parents, learners and teachers to ensure that this exercise can go on smoothly for the benefit of the country.”