ZANEC Press Statement on the Postponement of Opening of Schools

ZANEC Press Statement on the Postponement of Opening of Schools

As Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) we agree with Government that the current spiking number of COVID 19 cases pose a danger to our children especially that we are also seeing a number of children being infected. Our hope however is that the postponement of the opening of schools by the Minister of Education, Honourable Douglas Siakalima, MP from 10th to 24th January 2022 is intended to give schools adequate time to put the necessary public health measures in place to ensure that our children can learn in safe and health environments. We know that the COVID 19 pandemic will not improve in the next two weeks but we need to open our schools in order to avoid the further loss of learning time.

Our concern as ZANEC is that our learners lost a lot of learning time in 2020 and 2021 mainly due to the school closures coupled with limited access to alternative modes of education provision namely radio, television and online platforms. The solution is that government should start investing heavily in blended learning in order to allow for continuity of learning at home that can reach our more than 4.4 million learners across the country. Specifically, government must consider investing in the capitalisation of the Education Broadcasting Service (EBS) to enable it broadcast education programmes countrywide.  To achieve this, government through the Ministry of Information and Media needs to support the Ministry of Education (MOE) to get a licence that allows EBS to air radio programmes countrywide. The decision by the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) to deny EBS a nationwide licence on account that it was registered as a community radio station needs to be reversed as soon as possible.

Although we agree with the postponement of the opening of schools, we expect government to do the following in the short term:

  1. Provide financial resources to all schools to enable them put in place relevant public health measures that will ensure a safe and health learning environment for all children once schools reopen on 24th January, 2022.
  2. Start planning for blended education provision where some schools in low-risk areas like rural areas can remain open while those in high-risk localities like cities can close and revert to remote learning as they go through temporary lock down because of the spiking cases of COVID 19.
  3. Invest heavily the provision of continuity of learning at home through the airing of radio and television programmes, supporting online learning and distributing physical learning packs.
  4. Devise creative ways of ensuring continuous teacher engagement with their learners with or without technology to enable then facilitate remote learning in homes.
  5. Scale up campaigns for vaccination against COVID 19 especially among learners aged 12 years above by taking the vaccines as close to them as possible.
  6. Government should undertake a robust community sensitisation programme aimed at the prevention of early marriages, early pregnancies and physical abuse among school going children in homes.
  7. Expedite  the planned recruitment of teachers to bridge the increased demand for teachers arising from the splitting of classes being implemented to comply with the health requirement for social distancing.
  8. Undertake the simplification of the curriculum by prioritising a minimum set of competences to be delivered by teachers rather than diffusing efforts across a wide range of skills and topics that cannot be covered in the limited time available.

For/ZANEC

George Hamusunga

Executive Director

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