‘Learners will struggle after long rest’

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Jeffrey Muvundusi

in BULAWAYO

HUMANITARIAN organisation United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) has painted a grim picture for Zimbabwean students, warning they will struggle to get back to learning after a six-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

In its latest report, Unicef argued that before the Covid-19-induced lockdown in March, public schools were already subdued and this would be exacerbated by the lockdown.

“The combined effect of the humanitarian crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic is expected to have far-reaching implications for the demand and supply of education services,” said Unicef.

“While Zimbabwe closed schools on March 24 to contain the spread of Covid-19 and to protect school populations, school closures have disrupted the education of more than 4,6 million children, with adverse impacts on the protection and wellbeing of children as well as their readiness for school, attendance and participation in learning,” it added.

The government reopened public schools on September 28 and said examinations would be held in December.

This was after a six months’ closure which was part of restrictions to slow the spread of the pandemic.

Unicef further argued that after missing school for six months, it would be difficult for students to re-adjust.

“While schools are expected to reopen, school children have missed a whole term (about 92 days) of teaching and learning, with serious implications for the well-being of children and their academic growth,” said the organisation.

“The prolonged school closures are likely to have a major and negative effect on children’s learning, physical, social and mental health and well-being, threatening hard-won educational achievements for years to come,” it added.

Unicef further said the six-months closure would negatively impact the physically challenged students.

“Prolonged school closures will likely exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and inequalities among children, especially girls, children with disabilities, those in rural areas, orphans and vulnerable children, as well as those from poor households….,” said Unicef.

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