The Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education (MoPSE) has launched the Education Sector COVID-19 Response Plan (ESCRP) which proposes measures to be adopted to limit the exposure to the disease and reduce the probability of its transmission amongst learners, teachers, staff and school communities; minimize disruptions to learning, while proposing measures to build back better and safer school environments.
The plan which was launched by the Minister, Honourable Cain Mathema at St. Alberts High in Mashonaland Central, is underpinned by three objectives, that is, ensuring the continuity of learning through the implementation of key activities aimed at maintaining quality learning and wellbeing of teachers, learners and school communities during the COVID-19 emergency, supporting teachers, learners and school communities to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID-19 and facilitate the safe return to quality learning for teachers, learners and school communities after the COVID-19 emergency.
Implementation of the plan which will be supported by education partners through the education cluster and requires a budget of more than US$16 million, will see the MoPSE focusing on three key priority areas- Alternative Learning Approaches, Back to School and Opening up Better and Safe School Feeding with Teacher Capacitation and Awareness Raising as cross-cutting in all interventions.
Programmes under the plan include radio programming, digital and online learning, provision of supplementary learning materials, infection prevention and control for safe schools and school feeding among others.
A key pillar of the ESCRP is the COVID-19 Schools Response Plan which will see schools venturing into the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, sanitizers and other hand hygiene items.
Speaking at the launch of the ESCRP, Honourable Mathema said the COVID-19 threatened to derail the MoPSE’s commitment to the provision of inclusive, quality and safe education for all hence the need for strategies to mitigate against its effects.
“The strategy we are launching is designed to ensure that there is continued access to quality learning opportunities during and after COVID-19. Plans have been put in place to best prepare and support teachers and learners for a safe, secure and seamless transition back to quality teaching and learning in schools. It is important to open back better,” he said.
Since the COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Zimbabwe has implemented a countrywide closure of schools as part of wider measures to curb the spread of the disease. The date for re-opening of schools remains uncertain as the country continues to grapple with rising cases of the disease.