Zimbabwe: Radio lessons keep children engaged in learning

Radio became one of the key mediums for children in Zimbabwe to maintain much-needed educational continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read how it helped them stay abreast of their schooling during school closures.

March 29, 2021 by GPE Secretariat
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2 minutes read
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A classroom in Zimbabwe
Children in class at Glennview 2 primary school in Zimbabwe (2016)
Credit: GPE/ Carine Durand

Evans and Audrey are in Grade 5. Their portable digital radio has become a crucial tool to ensure that they continue to learn during the pandemic. While, both children miss going to school, they can keep up with school through the radio lessons.

“The English teacher is my favorite. My friend Audrey visits me so that we listen together on the radio-and give each other guidance,” he said. “At first it was hard for me to follow because I like the class set up but I am getting used to it.”

Despite the challenges of limited access to internet connectivity, electricity or computers, Zimbabwean children are staying abreast of their schooling through alternative learning methods such as through digital platforms and radio programs.

Radio has become one of the key mediums for children to maintain much-needed educational continuity. Radio’s wide reach and relatively low need for technical know-how makes its deployment faster and easier than scaling up internet connections given the current emergency caused by the pandemic.

Chantelle Ndoga is in Grade 1. She loves to read “Let’s share”, a picture book on the “Internet of Good Things platform. Credit: UNICEF Zimbabwe/2020/Rutendo Bamhare
Chantelle Ndoga is in Grade 1. She loves to read “Let’s share”, a picture book on the “Internet of Good Things" platform.
Credit: UNICEF Zimbabwe/2020/Rutendo Bamhare

Like most governments across the world, as a mitigation measure against the spread of COVID-19, the government of Zimbabwe announced the closure of schools in March 2020. Schools reopened in late 2020, but are closed again now.

In Zimbabwe, the pandemic has created new challenges for the education sector, which was already grappling with the impact of the national economic challenges and recovering from Cyclone Idai that hit the country in March 2019.

The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education launched radio lessons program in June 2020, starting with the primary level, with support from partners like GPE. Learning through radio includes lessons in mathematics, indigenous languages, English, science and technology, and heritage studies.

In June 2020, Zimbabwe received a US$7 million grant from GPE, which not only helps address the immediate education challenges posed by the pandemic, but also contributes to building a more resilient education system for future crises.

This story was produced with the support of UNICEF Zimbabwe.

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Sub-Saharan Africa: Zimbabwe

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Radio has been under-utilised during the Covid crisis. It's often overlooked that basic mobile phones are also radio receivers. This Zimbabwe report shows the potential of radio, across a range of subjects. There is far more to a genuine quality education than just basic literacy! So much primary school curriculum content can be delivered through radio formats like stories, quizzes, visualizations, narrated descriptions of natural processes, round-table discussions, question and answer sessions.... etc. Radio producers and teachers working together can make a formidable communication team. One key to success is making the broadcasts fun and entertaining.

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