In March, Eswatini declared a state of emergency and closed schools to contain the spread of coronavirus. As a result, 350,000 students and nearly 16,000 teachers were immediately impacted, and home has become their new classroom.
A few weeks later, GPE allocated a US$70,000 grant to the government of Eswatini– channeled through a global initiative with UNICEF. The grant aims to plan for activities to ensure children continue learning during this unprecedented time while developing safe practices for when schools reopen. The grant is playing a key role in helping the government minimize the disruptions to learning caused by the pandemic.
Lessons through TV, radio and newspapers
With GPE’s grant and UNICEF’s technical support, the government of Eswatini developed an education contingency plan and rapidly established alternative learning methods through TV, radio and newspapers to facilitate continued learning from home.
Partnerships with national TV and radio stations were developed to broadcast daily lessons on core subjects for grade 7,10, and 12 students. Less than 10 days after schools were closed, the first lessons were aired on the radio and TV. As of June 4, 216 lessons have been aired in English and 51 in siSwati, the country’s national language.
Lessons are aired for 10 hours a day on national radio stations; as more than 80% of the population has access to radios, this gives most children the opportunity to access learning.
Lessons on core subjects are broadcast on TV for 3.5 hours daily and, to ensure inclusivity, offer sign language interpretation. Newspapers also include a daily feature on “education at home” from Monday to Friday.