When schools in Zanzibar closed on March 18, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly 530,000 students in preprimary, primary and secondary school were placed in compulsory home-based education. The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) needed support to expand its COVID 19 Response and Recovery Plan to ensure all children continued learning during this time.
Read how Zanzibar made sure that children’s learning isn't interrupted during the COVID-19 pandemic and that students can safely return to school, thanks to GPE support and by mobilizing the whole community.
With GPE’s US$1.5 million support, the ministry developed and aired 149 educational programs on 3 TV stations - and 61 programs on 8 radio stations.
In addition, lessons were uploaded onto the ministry’s website and on YouTube, which reached around 350,000 students.
Teachers were provided airtime to support student’s learning and training on areas such as how to respond to students’ questions on the lessons through platforms like WhatsApp/SMS groups while schools were closed. The online lessons developed were also distributed to teacher centers to support classroom teaching practices.
Additionally, lessons were developed to accommodate students with special needs. TV programs included sign language interpretation and the distribution of assistive devices, Braille and large print textbooks.Print material was also developed for primary and secondary school students in marginalized areas without easy access to radio, TV, or online and SMS instruction.
As a result of this campaign, 99% of pre-primary, primary and secondary students are back in school after they reopened on June 29, 2020.
Preparing for students’ return to school
An e-assessment platform to assess students’ distance learning outcomes was developed by the ministry with partners. Students could log on to the platform via tablets, computer or phone to take a test on selected topics and skills.
The goal of this assessment was to inform decision making process on remedial measures and accelerated curricula to make up for learning lost during the closures.
While keeping students learning during this period has been important, Zanzibar also worked on preparing for their safe return to school. Handwashing stations along with additional sanitation and hygiene facilities were constructed, in conjunction with the launch of a campaign to sensitize and engage parents, community members and teachers on the importance of children returning to school.
To ensure girls returned to school, special efforts that include high-level advocacy were made within communities, particularly in marginalized areas. In areas with higher numbers of children not returning to school, local authorities, leaders and influential community members were engaged to support the effort of encouraging them to return to school.