Like many other educational organisations, Chiedza Out-of-School programme has been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and children have been unable to attend school for seven months. This has been particularly hard for the children as most primary learners, for example, live with caregivers who do not have phones so contact with them was impossible.
When some lockdown restrictions were lifted in July, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education gave permission for examination classes to run from the 28th July. Chiedza therefore reopened its doors to examination level students for two days per week to allow face-to-face interaction between students and teachers. Secondary learners were given a series of home-study packs to work on, which were later marked and returned to them for revision purposes.
This timetable helped the children to stay in touch with their teachers and to focus on their studies. Twelve students will be sitting their ‘O’ level exams from the 1st of December and four students for their ‘A’ level exams from the 3rd of December.
During September, Chiedza developed its own standard operating procedure in order to remain compliant with the new regulations set out by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. Training also took place for staff, learners and parents; and this was run by Medecins Sans Frontières and Harare City Health Department. In addition, the team acquired Personal Protective Equipment for use by everyone on the school premises. As a result of the Ministry’s school reopening plan, Chiedza has been able to readmit children in different phases for the last three months. The first group of learners allowed to return were the fourteen secondary level students sitting national exams in December. Level 3 students, Grades 6 and 7, returned on the 26th of October and the remainder returned on the 9th of November. The school day for primary aged children has been adjusted to ending at 1pm rather than 4pm in order to minimise contact during playtime and informal socialising at the school gates.