Zimbabwe: Catch-Up Strategy for Schools Drafted

14 January 2021

A new teaching strategy will be ready for accelerated learning that will help learners catch up when schools are able to reopen safely for the new term.

Following the recent surge in Covid-19 cases, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education postponed the start of the first term except for the last batch of O-level and A-level exams.

The ministry's director of communications and advocacy, Mr Taungana Ndoro, this week said the robust catch-up learning and teaching strategy would be reflected in the teachers' plan books.

"Catch-up programmes are planned for the time when schools reopen. We will follow an accelerated pattern of the teaching and learning and this strategy will be ready when schools open.

"Remember the plan book of teachers? Now we plan with catch-up strategies in place. For instance, a topic on energy can be done at once under one subject instead of separately in geography, physics, chemistry or science," said Mr Ndoro.

He said stakeholders were already involved and online platforms were very active.

Mr Ndoro said schools have intensified preparations for the safe opening of schools and accelerated implementation of teaching and learning activities.

Details on the catch-up strategy are being communicated to teachers and school authorities for implementation.

"Some teachers and heads have already been apprised of the strategies and are preparing to roll out the programme as soon as schools reopen," said Mr Ndoro.

Former Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Ms Fay Chung called for the effective use of radio for lessons to help learners catch up at a time when the country was under lockdown.

"What the rural areas have is radio and printed matter. The use of radio for education can play a very important role in ensuring that every child continues to receive a good education. Radio lessons have a long and illustrious history in Zimbabwe," said Ms Chung.

"Almost every Zimbabwean family owns a radio and the radio can be used for educational purposes. Excellent radio programmes would assist every child," she said.

Ms Chung also urged parents to actively help their children.

"Parents must actively participate in the learning exercise. Materials to assist parents to understand the learning process will enable the child to learn through the home. The whole society can support learning. The church can also help families to understand and support learning. Newspapers should include a page on learning."

Another educationist, Dr Peter Kwaira of the University of Zimbabwe's Faculty of Education, said systems must be flexible in helping learners as the Covid-19 pandemic is not close to an end.

"Within this environment, the public, Government and all education stakeholders must think of the way to operate. Flexibility is key. We should have schools but in a controlled environment."

"I am calling for us to think of flexible ways to operate in this environment. This lockdown without further thinking won't help, said Dr Kwaira.

He said education was part of the country's solution to the pandemic.

"For us to go out of the pandemic, we have to reinforce our education and the moment we fail to reinforce our education, we remain in the pandemic and when more disasters come the country might fail to address them."

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