The directive by the President, his Excellence Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, that primary and secondary school examination classes should re-open on 1st June 2020 is strategic and important in averting the looming educational crisis arising from the disruption of the academic calendar. However, the fact that schools will be required to enforce the public health guidelines and meet certification guidelines as rightly guided by the President means that a lot of preparatory work and investment is required in the sector to mitigate against the likely health risks of running classes during the COVID 19 period. To achieve this, only a multi-sectoral approach currently being applied in fighting COVID 19 can help realize this aspiration. The reason being that, the Ministry of General Education (MoGE) alone has neither the capacity nor the resources required to mitigate the likely impact of COVID 19 on education. Adequate funding will have to be made available to the schools as the current COVID 19 prevention measures cannot be implemented using the meagre resources from user fees. ZANEC will therefore monitor the schools to ascertain their readiness to admit pupils in examination classes and will engage the Ministry of General Education on the gaps that may be observed.
ZANEC also hopes that the Ministry will continue airing television programmes on both Top star and Free to air decoders in order to ensure sustained learning among the non-examination classes. However, ZANEC is concerned that by using only one channel, the Ministry is not able to carry much content in a week. There is also need to promote the time table for the television education programmes in order to ensure that learners do not miss important programmes. We would also like to call upon the Ministry to expedite the process of airing education programmes on community radio stations in order to have more pupils benefiting from the lessons.
Finally, ZANEC is of the view that the delivery of self-learning packs must be done to all learners in public, community, private and grant aided schools. Research has shown that learners at both primary and secondary school levels are not able to take adequate notes from educational programmes delivered through television and radio. The self-learning packs can therefore help in filling this gap and make such educational programmes more effective. Similarly, in an emergency disaster situation like the one we are currently in, good practice demands that government takes a rights based approach in the delivery of education in order to ensure that no one is left behind.