BASIC Education Teachers Union of Zambia director workers education Kabika Kakunta says in view of increased populations in schools since government introduced free education, school administrators must try by all means to enforce Covid-19 prevention guidelines.

In an interview Kakunta said education was a right.

“First of all, it must be made very clear that education is a right and every child must have the right to education. We know as education experts that one of the requirements to access education before was the cost attained to access of education. We know that currently, the government is running a free education policy from grade one to grade 12 and we have seen that there has been a rise in the numbers of learners in schools. But of course the issue of increase in the number of learners cannot directly be attributed to the spread of Covid-19”, he said.

“We know that schools were even closed before even when there was no free education because of Covid-19. But obviously, we know that if we have high numbers of learners in schools and the learners are not adhering to the five golden rules in the fight against Covid-19, obviously there can be a rise in the number cases because of the issues of contact and because of the manner in which our schools can be managed due to the increase of numbers and demand of education”.

He said the rise in Covid-19 cases could not solely be attributed to the free education policy.

“And, therefore, us as the labour movement and as the Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia, the fact that we have a rise in the demand for education obviously, we can begin to talk about it being a contributing factor to the rise of cases in young people or learners. But of course it’s not very clear in terms of looking at the numbers, I’m currently in Mumbwa visiting the schools, what is coming out clearly is that yes there has been a rise of number of learners struggling to have access to education, that has also given the rise in the demand for space and of course, if the rise in the demand for the space is not managed, I think it should obviously be able to be attributed to some of the cases for Covid-19,” said Kakunta

“Our appeal as labour movement is that our school managers and teachers must intensify the crusade on ensuring that our children mask up, in ensuring that our children adhere to the rules that can help prevent the spread of Covid-19. And, therefore, yes the rise in the cases can be attributed to also the high learners population but it doesn’t mean that that may have been triggered by the issues of free education. And I think for us our focus is to see how do we make sure that our schools remain safe, how do we ensure that our administrators push the safety agenda in terms of how we keep our learners in schools. So yes those issues are clear and the cases are real of Covid but I think that what needs to be done is making sure that the five golden rules in the fight against Covid-19 are adhered to.”