Zimbabwe: Zim Reintroduces Radio Lessons

School lessons will be broadcast on radio and television, as well as being published online to reach everyone over the next six months, Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Thumisang Thabela said yesterday.

The return of school lessons to radio after a two-decade break was officially launched yesterday to ensure learners do not forget the content gained over the past two years, if their present inactivity was prolonged.

Speaking at the launch, Mrs Thabela said: "The ministry is preparing emergency learning modules to use for at least six months which includes radio, online and hopefully in the near future television lessons, this is why we approached the Information Ministry to find ways to ensure there is least damage to the children's development.

"We understood that if we are not careful, children will retrogress to the point that if they return to classrooms, we will be starting from two years back."

Three media companies, ZBC, Zimpapers and AB Communications provided facilities for recording the content.

Radio stations under the three companies will be carrying out the lessons.

Mrs Thabela said in the first phase, radio lessons would cover primary education.

Content for high school learners is now being produced.

Learning areas to be covered include mathematics, indigenous languages, English, science and technology, and heritage studies.

Mrs Thabela said rural learners and those who cannot access radio, TV and online lessons will get hard copy modules, which are being printed with support from partners.

Radio lessons were part of the local radio programming until 2001 when then Radio 4, now National FM, was repurposed to the present programming.

Mrs Thabela said the return of radio lessons will go beyond the Covid-19 period.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education will be applying for a radio licence so that it can have a dedicated channel for learning.

Sprucing up of studios is in process.

Speaking at the same occasion, Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Mr Nick Mangwana, said the radio lessons have created renewed agency to increase the platforms' penetration.

"Radio is a great way of bringing lessons to our learners because even feature phones with unsophisticated technology can be used to access radio content," he said.

"We are aware we are not covering the whole country yet, but we are working hard to ensure there is widened reach in radio frequencies."

Mr Mangwana promised the country that radio lessons will now be a permanent fixture on the airwaves.

The move drew rare praise for Government from teachers' unions.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) information officer, Ms Daisy Zambuko, applauded the ministry for the initiative.

The content was produced by volunteer teachers who availed themselves for recording during the Covid-19 lockdown.

One of the teachers under the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, whose Grade Two English lesson was played on radio as the first lesson, Mrs Lindiwe Nyoka, said she was honoured to have contributed to the country.

One of the key partners in the programme, Zimpapers, believe their wide radio network will help reach more learners.

Zimpapers Group public relations and corporate affairs manager Ms Beatrice Tonhodzayi said the company platforms will be carrying lessons in indigenous languages.

"As Zimpapers, through our radio division, we are working with Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education to start radio lessons," she said.

"We are mainly looking at Nyami Nyami and Diamond FM.

"We will be using indigenous local languages like Ndau, Tonga, Barwe, Chewa, among others. This comes at a time when learners are stuck at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Radio has a wide reach to our communities, so this is an exciting initiative for us."

Zimbabwe returns to the delivery of radio lessons which formed a strong part of broadcast programming in the formative years of the country.

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