Luckmore Mondiwa teaches history to students wearing masks at The United Methodist Church’s Murewa High School in Murewa, Zimbabwe. Students and teachers in Zimbabwe are struggling to learn and teach as COVID-19 lockdown restrictions continue. Photo by Kudzai Chingwe, UM News.
By Kudzai Chingwe
Feb. 16, 2021 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UM News)
In Zimbabwe, like other countries worldwide, the second surge of COVID-19 continues to disrupt education as teachers, children and parents shelter at home. With another government-imposed lockdown in place, families are scrambling to adapt to online learning.
The World Health Organization reported 35,222 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 1,410 deaths in Zimbabwe between March 2020 and Feb. 16. About 850 died in January alone.
The Zimbabwean government extended the country’s level 4 lockdown until March 5. Schools and churches remain closed. Some students were able to remain in school until exams were completed at the beginning of February.
The Rev. Munyaradzi Timire, Zimbabwe East Conference education secretary, was grateful that no United Methodist primary and secondary schools had reported COVID-19 cases. However, he said, the pandemic has adversely affected education across the country.
“The education system is heading for a collapse,” he said, “unless the government comes up with a strong national policy for alternative-learning modalities, which need massive funding.”
Godfrey Chishakwe, headmaster of the church’s Arnoldine Primary School, said that COVID-19 affected Early Childhood Development more than other primary grades.
“Reopening of primary schools was done in phases, with preferences given to (the) grade seven examination class,” he said. “The government instructed all headmasters to stagger the learners’ attendance to adhere to COVID-19 preventative measures. Each class would attend classes twice a week and ECD only once a week, but due to limited resources they ended up not attending.”
The national Grade 7 pass rate for 2020 was 37.11%, compared to 46.9% recorded in 2019. Arnoldine Primary School is not an exception, said Chishakwe. “We did not do well.”