In response to the ongoing cholera outbreak, Zambian schools are set to remain closed for an additional three weeks after the festive holidays, causing a delayed start to the academic year.
Education Minister Hon. Douglas Syakalima clarified that originally education classes were scheduled to resume next Monday, will now return on January 29, 2024, according to an announcement on Thursday.
This postponement applies to all public, private, aided, and community learning institutions, including Early Childhood Education (ECE) centers, primary, and secondary schools. Learners at all levels are expected to resume classes on January 29, 2024, after a three-week extension from the initial opening date.
To compensate for the lost time, the Minister explained that the First Term holidays will be reduced to one week instead of the standard four weeks. Consequently, schools will now close for Term One on April 26, 2024, and reopen for Term Two on May 6, 2024.
In light of the shortened holiday period, Minister Syakalima urged parents and guardians to prepare their children for the upcoming term well in advance of the official closure of Term One.
The Ministry of Education, under Hon. Douglas Syakalima’s leadership, emphasized a cautious approach to reopening schools, calling for collaborative efforts from all stakeholders to ensure the safety and readiness of educational institutions.
The Ministry of Health in Zambia, Hon. Sylvia Masebo, disclosed on Sunday that the cholera outbreak, which began in October 2023, has resulted in 3,015 confirmed cases and 98 fatalities.
The severity of the situation has raised concerns about the nation’s “health security,” as previously warned by the Ministry of Health.
To ensure the safety of students and staff upon their return, Zambia’s education minister has issued directives, emphasizing the necessity for a comprehensive cleaning of all learning institutions, provision of clean water and sanitation facilities, installation of sufficient handwashing points, and the availability of disinfectants.
This proactive approach aims to mitigate the risk of further cholera transmission within educational settings, placing the health and well-being of the student population at the forefront of priorities.”