Online learning to be standardised

By Staff reporter | 09 Jun 2020 at 18:29hrs
Cain Mathema
THE Government is working to standardise online learning while some public schools have started to teach learners virtually, particularly in Bulawayo.

Schools closed prematurely on March 24 as Government initiated measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the country. Up to date schools are yet to reopen and will do so under a phased programme, prioritising examination classes.

Cabinet last week outlined strict guidelines for the reopening of schools which include wearing on face masks both for teachers and pupils, observing social distancing, downsizing of classes, hand sanitisation among other Covid-19 preventive measures.

Primary and Secondary Education Minister Cain Mathema recently said the reopening of schools will be a subject of consultation and will not be imposed. Most private schools have rolled out online learning although demanding Second Term fees, a development that has left them at loggerheads with Government.

Government's position is that fees should not charged as the Second Term has not commenced. Some Government schools in Bulawayo have also commenced online learning to keep learners on track educationally, largely using the WhatsApp platform.

Bulawayo Provincial Education Director Mrs Olicah Kaira said while some schools are teaching online, Government was working on modalities to make the process uniform.

"This is an initiative that is coming from teachers because of their passion for teaching. These teachers are sending notes and exercises using WhatsApp platform to pupils. A lot of children are benefitting through such platforms across all the learning areas. But as a Ministry we are talking about standardising the process for all learners.

"We need to follow and observe the curriculum and syllabus. We don't want the process to be disjointed. We are working to have e-learning to be standard," said Mrs Kaira.

She said she believes that the process was not only happening in Bulawayo but other parts of the country as well. Mrs Kaira said parents need to be actively involved in online lessons of their children.

"The WhatsApp models that I have come across also give instructions to parents asking them to assist in the teaching of learners. Some of the teachers are sending even video tutorials. I have seen a teacher teaching pupils mathematics 'tens and units'. Through WhatsApp teachers are taking videos demonstrating through a chart and I've seen another teacher providing audio instructions. Most of the teachers are using parental group chats to communicate to learners as not all the learners have handsets," said Mrs Kaira.

She said teachers even communicate their weekly plans to learners through their parents' phones and some of them have even set up timetable, as if they were in class. Mrs Kaira while commending the dedication, creativity and innovation from teachers, said the future is in standardised learning even for virtual learning.

Minister Mathema said Covid-19 has disrupted face to face learning that people have been accustomed to as a result Government was working on strategies including developing emergency learning modules, radio and television lessons, and e-learning for a period of six months.

On Friday Government launched the indigenous languages' radio lessons programme for early childhood development (ECD), primary and secondary school classes in response to the closure of schools due to Covid-19.



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