• Government must also expedite the planned recruitment of teachers.
• Government must invest heavily in the provision of continuity of learning at home.
• Government must consider investing in the capitalisation of the Education Broadcasting Service.
Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) says it supports government’s decision to postpone the opening of schools from 10th to 24th January 2022.
In a statement, ZANEC Executive Director George Hamusunga however said the organization expects government to provide financial resources to all schools to enable them put in place relevant public health measures that will promote a safe and health learning environment.
Mr. Hamusunga stated that government must also expedite the planned recruitment of teachers to bridge the increased demand for teachers arising from the splitting of classes in line with the health requirement for social distancing.
“Although we agree with the postponement of the opening of schools, we expect government to do the following in the short term: 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.”
“Devise creative ways of ensuring continuous teacher engagement with their learners with or without technology to enable then facilitate remote learning in homes. 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. 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,” Mr. Hamusunga advised.
He further advised government to undertake the simplification of the curriculum by prioritising a minimum set of competences to be delivered by teachers unlike diffusing efforts across a wide range of skills and topics that cannot be covered in the limited time available.
Mr. Hamusunga also stressed the need for government to invest heavily in blended learning in order to allow for continuity of learning at home through the airing of radio and television programmes, among others.
And said schools need to open on the set date in order to avoid the further loss of learning time because pupils lost out a lot in 2020 and 2021 mainly due to the school closures coupled with limited access to alternative modes of education provision such as radio, television and online platforms.
“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,” he added.
On Monday, Minister of Education Douglas Siakalima announced that schools will reopen on 24th January 2022 instead of 10th January 2022 due to the upswing in Covid-19 cases.