By Kay Kaseke
Mr Nick Mangwana the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information has said government is working to finalise a new school calendar for 2020 since the existing one has been affected by the lockdown which is meant to contain the spread of COVID-19.
This was revealed during a webinar media training, organised by UNDP and Higherlife Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry of Information. Schools have been closed since March 24 while the lockdown started on March 30 ending on May 3.
Mr Mangwana said there was still need to bring people to class despite of the number of days that have been lost.
“We still need to bring people to classes and whatever number of days that have been lost in the current school calendar would have to be covered. It may mean that we are going to open schools in around maybe August and go all the way to Christmas with no breaking between. I am not saying this is what we are going to do but we are still talking so that we ensure learners recover.”
“The school calendar is one of the most affected in our country because of the lockdown and because of the virus. The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education is working to ensure that those who can learn online right now can continue learning,” said Mr Mangwana.
“It is something that we are discussing so we may help learners to recover. For any calendar to be considered as an educational calendar, there is a requisite number of lesson days that have to be met and in this particular case, we are behind and we would need to cover that deficit"
He added that the biggest population of learners is found in the rural areas where it's difficult to access the internet.
“We know that our biggest population is in the rural areas where access to electricity and internet are low. At the moment, we know that 1.5 million learners were on the Ruzivo platform and we know that our learning population mainstream is around 3.6 million so that means we still have a massive majority who are not on that platform.”
Zimbabwe has some of the continent’s most expensive mobile data tariffs. The Zimbabwe Chapter of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWEZ) said alternative learning methods are welcome during lockdown, but it is also important to check their accessibility so that they do not deepen inequalities among students.